NHS chiefs in Sunderland reveal their plans to deal with no-deal Brexit
Health bosses in Sunderland have revealed their planning for any potential fallout from a no-deal Brexit.
The Government's ‘Yellowhammer’ report recently revealed the potential impact of Britain exiting the European Union without a deal, including consequences for food and medical supplies.
Sunderland’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) revealed their own Brexit plans for Wearside this week.
Chief Finance Officer, David Chandler, said the CCG would continue with a ‘business as usual’ approach in line with national and regional advice.
While wider schemes are in place around the stockpiling of medicines, the health chief revealed other measures have been put in place locally.
This includes senior roles with responsibility for EU exit preparations at CCG, health trust and council levels.
Additionally, the CCG has set up a ‘EU exit preparations task and finish group’ alongside drafting action plans to deal with risks - although many are being managed nationally.
David Chandler said: “Some of the areas we have been asked to focus on include the supply of medicines and vaccines, the supply of medical devices and clinical consumables and data sharing.
“We have also been asked to put additional arrangements in place of late in terms of ‘stepping up arrangements’ as is every other organisation, i'm sure, in the country.
“We will have a director 24/7 on call arrangement in place in Sunderland CCG that will cross a few days before and a few days after October 31. That will be in place if necessary.”
The Department for Health and Social Care is currently leading on guidance for health authorities around any EU exit.
On Wearside, the CCG will work to keep health providers in check and make sure they’re following guidance.
For GP practices, briefing documents will be passed to doctors, practice managers, receptionists and patients to reassure the public that medicine stockpiles and 'protected routes' are in place.
Staffing will also be beefed up with CCG ‘reservists’ prepared to step in the case of any disruption.
David Chandler added: “Clearly we will put in everything we can to mitigate risk as much as we possibly can.
“In any area there is always a risk that something comes up that we have not prepared for.
“Nobody has gone through a EU no-deal exit in this country before so that’s something we’re aware of.
“That’s why we have put things in place to ensure we have a director on call, a senior responsible officer, good links with other sectors and also creating a team of what we call reservists.
“We have people on standby who work in the CCG who will drop tools and help out with any particular issue that suddenly arises that needs dedicated manpower, whatever that might be.”
The comments came during the CCG's recent Governing Body meeting during a discussion on report on ‘EU Exit Operational Readiness’.
Although health bosses welcomed the changes, they said uncertainty remained around the current EU leave date of October 31.
Acting chairman at the meeting, Chris Macklin, added the CCG was prepared, whatever the outcome.
“We have done what we have been asked to do and probably a lot more,” he said.
“The thing is to assure members of the public and others that we’re prepared for whatever eventuality may or may not occur.”