An investigation by the BMJ has revealed that NHS trusts are poorly prepared for Brexit. Only 9 per cent of trusts in England have established a committee or body to oversee preparations for Brexit compared to at least half of health boards in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
The BMJ says a lack of concrete guidance from the government is making it difficult for trusts to move beyond basic planning. Trusts have been unable to accurately forecast how areas such as supply chains, medicines and workforce will be affected after the 29 March exit deadline.
Out of 231 trusts in England, only 15 of the 161 who responded to queries from the journal reported that a Brexit preparations committee had been established. Of the 26 health boards in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, 14 of the 21 that responded had established a committee.
Only a quarter of the trusts and health boards that responded were able to produce information relating to risk assessment, with many saying that they are still assessing the risk. The risk assessments that have been carried out are “largely thin on detail”, the BMJ reports.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, the body that represents NHS trusts in England, told the BMJ: “All of the uncertainty has just exacerbated an already difficult situation. Trusts have planned as far as they can, but so much of this is reliant on central government action.
“We’re still waiting for an immigration white paper for clarity on what the status of immigration into this country is going to be. That could have been done regardless of whether we had a deal or a no-deal Brexit,” she remarked.