No-deal Brexit will have ‘massive impact’ on NHS

Dr Tom Black.
Dr Tom Black.

A Derry GP has warned of the “catastrophic consequences” of a no-deal Brexit.

Dr Tom Black, who chairs the British Medical Association’s NI council, says the impact of an EU crash-out on patients, the health workforce and health services will be devastating.

In a new briefing paper entitled ‘A health service on the brink: the dangers of a no-deal Brexit’, the BMA outlines how a departure from the EU without an agreement will threaten the NHS, its staff and its patients, leaving practically no area of healthcare untouched.

The report warns that Northern Ireland will face further challenges for service delivery, workforce and funding, leaving an already stretched system at breaking point.

Dr Black said: “We have spoken already about some of the potential impact Brexit may have on the supply of medicines, but what this paper does is lay out in black and white the full extent of the problems we will face if there was a no-deal Brexit.

“Across the UK, health organisations are warning that we are sleepwalking into a disaster and nothing I am seeing or hearing from government is reassuring me that sufficient planning is being done.

“Doctors are asking me questions along the lines of: ‘On November 1, if I am driving to see a patient and have medicines in my bag and I go over and back across the border in the course of my journey, will I be covered for bringing medicine across a border?’.

“Similarly, we are being asked about issues around employing staff who might be from another European country or the ongoing treatment of someone from Europe who is living here.

“With Brexit potentially only nine weeks away, there really needs to be much more information shared with doctors and the general public on what they need to do in these scenarios.”

The briefing also demands more than 40 questions are urgently answered by the Department of Health and Westminster Government on areas such as: the NHS workforce; access to medicines; reciprocal healthcare arrangements; medical research and the treatment of rare diseases.

Dr Black added: “The BMA has been clear of the danger that Brexit poses to the NHS, its staff and patients –a no-deal, in particular, will irreparably damage our health service and the nation’s health.

“No-deal will have catastrophic consequences for patients, the health workforce and health services.

“Given these dangers, every possible step must be taken to avoid it.”