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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Britain's health service could run out of drugs post-Brexit, NHS group warns

A leaked email said a no-deal Brexit would affect “the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals”

Britain's Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier shake hands in Brussels. Reuters
Britain's Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier shake hands in Brussels. Reuters

Britain’s National Health Service risks running out of drugs if the UK crashes out of the European Union without a deal, the group representing NHS hospitals and ambulance services has warned.

In a leaked email published on Tuesday in The Times, the head of NHS Providers said a hard Brexit or no deal would affect “the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals”.

“Public health and disease control co-ordination could suffer,” chief executive Chris Hopson said, adding that if no agreement on future relations is made this could “jeopardise” the EU workforce on “which the NHS relies”.

Mr Hopson said it would be more efficient for government ministers and NHS bodies to develop national contingency plans for a “no deal” prospect rather than for trusts to develop plans individually, which he likened to reinventing “the wheel 229 times”.

Britain is due to exit the EU on March 29, 2019 and Prime Minister Theresa May has said she plans to have a deal with the trading bloc by autumn in order to allow individual members states enough time to agree on a deal.

However, divisions within Mrs May’s Conservative Party have led to fears that no agreement will be reached. Earlier this month the head of the UK’s central bank and a senior government minister both warned that a hard Brexit was becoming increasingly likely.

On Tuesday, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt described a no deal Brexit scenario as “one of the biggest threats to European unity” adding that it would be bad for both Britain and the EU.

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Mrs May has said she remains confident of reaching an agreement with the world’s biggest trading bloc.

Britain’s Brexit secretary Dominic Raab travelled to Brussels on Tuesday to meet the EU’s chief negotiator for a new round of talks, which will go on through to Wednesday.

Mr Raab will make a speech in London on Thursday to outline the government’s plans for a no-deal eventuality to ensure continuity and stability.

At the same time the government will publish the first in a series of technical reports to help businesses and individuals prepare if Britain leaves without a deal in place.

Meanwhile, international trade secretary Liam Fox said on Tuesday that Britain had the potential to become an “exporting superpower”.

Mr Fox said the country will aim to increase exports, which have been boosted by the weakness in the pound, from 30 per cent of GDP in 2017 to 35 per cent over the long-term.