GOVERNMENT PREPARATIONS FOR A ‘NO DEAL’ SCENARIO
A key role we play here at Healthwatch Torbay involves listening to and responding to feedback from the public concerning health and social services locally. That involves, too, monitoring what’s going on, including any developments or changes in services, large or small, and how people are likely to be affected by them.
Bearing that in mind, Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has this week published an update on the Government’s preparations for a March 2019 ‘no deal’ Brexit – and what he thinks the health and care system needs to consider in the period leading up to it.
The Government, he insists, ‘remains confident we will leave with a good deal for both sides (and) supports existing and future healthcare collaboration.’ Nonetheless, the Department of Health and Social Care has stepped up its planning for a ‘no deal’ scenario with, he tells us, ‘robust plans in place to protect patient safety and healthcare provision.’
Continuity of Supply
The Government, he adds, has set out a scheme to ensure ‘a sufficient and seamless supply of medicines’ in the event of ‘no deal’, ensuring the UK has an additional six weeks supply of medicines in case imports from the EU are affected.
That said, Mr Hancock reckons that Hospitals, GPs and community pharmacies don’t need to make any steps to stockpile additional medicines and clinicians should advise patients that the Government has plans to ensure a continued supply of medicines from the moment we leave the EU: ‘Patients will not need to and should not seek to store additional medicines at home.’
Other Preparatory Activity
The Government is also putting in place measures to manage other implications for the health and care sector, including, for example, future immigration rules, continuity of research funding, and pan-European clinical and research collaborations, as well as future reciprocal healthcare arrangements.
The new announcement reiterates that the Government recognises ‘the valuable contribution that EU citizens make to the UK, including those working in the health and care system,’ reminding us that it recently announced that doctors and nurses are now exempt from the cap on skilled worker visas. This means that there will be no restrictions on the number of doctors and nurses who can be employed through the Tier 2 visa route.
The Treasury is also extending the Government’s guarantee of EU funding to underwrite the UK’s allocation for structural and investment fund projects under this EU Budget period to 2020. Organisations, such as charities, businesses and universities, will continue to receive funding over a project’s lifetime if they successfully bid into EU-funded programmes before December 2020.
A new page at gov.uk brings together this and other relevant information.
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