No-deal Brexit will put patients’ lives at risk, health unions warn ministers

RCN and Unison among unions urging government to protect medicines supply and NHS workforce
protesters against Brexit highlight the impact they say it will have on the NHS

RCN and Unison among unions urging government to protect medicines supply and NHS workforce

Picture: Alamy

Leaders of 11 health unions have come together to warn ministers a no-deal Brexit could threaten patients’ lives.

Their joint statement said the supply of life-saving cancer drugs could be put in jeopardy if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal by 31 October.

They also said a no-deal Brexit would devastate the NHS workforce.

‘No responsible government would risk life-saving medicines shortages’

The statement from the RCN, Royal College of Midwives, Unison, Unite, the British Medical Association and others reads: 'A no-deal could cause significant disruption to the supply of medicine, lasting up to six months.

'Many medicines, including life-saving agents for cancer diagnosis and therapy, cannot be stockpiled and, for those that can [be], stockpiles could run out.

'These kinds of shortages and delays can be fatal. No responsible government should take that risk.'

The statement signatories

  • British Dietetic Association
  • British Medical Association
  • British Orthoptic Society
  • Chartered Institute of Physiotherapy
  • GMB
  • Royal College of Midwives
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Society of Radiographers
  • TUC


Risks of no-deal Brexit to the NHS workforce

They said no-deal would intensify the staffing crisis in the NHS, adding that thousands of staff from the EU had already left since the 2016 referendum.

'Tens of thousands of NHS and care workers from the EU would be left in limbo, intensifying the largest staffing crisis in the service's history.

'Ministers must unequivocally guarantee the right of European health and care staff to continue to live and work in the UK.'

A government spokesperson said: 'Our plans should ensure the supply of medicines and medical products remains uninterrupted when we leave the EU.'

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