Welcome to About that bus… our new blog bringing you up to date news and views, and the inside track on how the fallout from Brexit is affecting the NHS at national and local level, edited by James Illman Contact me in confidence.

20.09.19  Shortlist for extra freight capacity revealed

Eurotunnel, Brittany Ferries, P&O and Stena are among transport companies on a UK government shortlist to provide up to £300m of additional international freight capacity in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Financial Times has reported.

The government will now hold “mini competitions” to see which companies on the shortlist can provide the best service and price — with a deadline of early October. The Department for Transport is scrambling to secure providers so that capacity is in place ahead of October 31, the date by which Boris Johnson has said the UK must leave the EU with or without a deal.

17.09.19 Listen to HSJ’s Brexit correspondent James Illman discussing the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit on the NHS on BBC Radio 4’s World at One last week (starting at 10 minutes 50 seconds).

“There are concerns around the medical supply and the both the NHS and social care workforce…[but[ it’s [also] wishful think to think you can ‘Brexit proof’ the NHS through planning alone because the unknown variable are the ones which could turn out to be the biggest problems.”

16.09.19 The ‘About that bus…?’ newsletter is out! This week: The NHS’ biggest no-deal Brexit threat   

The Yellowhammer documents released last week should focus NHS minds on the need to ratchet up lobbying efforts. Avoiding the social care crisis likely to materialise after a no-deal Brexit – which will need improved funding and policy change – is the most pressing issue, writes James Illman

13.09.19 Which drugs could be vulnerable to shortage if there is a no-deal Brexit?

An online pharmacy has identified a wide range of 59 drugs which its suppliers have expressed supply concerns about, some of which could be driven by patients stockpiling ahead of a potential no-deal Brexit.

The wide range of drugs varies from over-the-counter medicines like aspirin, to antipsychotics, blood pressure and cancer medicines, and even Viagra.

The list, by online doctor and pharmacy e-Surgery, represents the drugs “which [it’s] suppliers have expressed concern about, either because there are worries around availability or because the prices are already rising as a result of stockpiling; leading to real concerns over post-Brexit costs and supply”.

The list does not say whether the concerns are driven by general availability concerns or are directly by Brexit. See the full list here.

12.09.19 Exclusive: NHS chiefs want latest no-deal plans from government

NHS chiefs have urged ministers to publish their up-to-date plans for a no-deal Brexit, in the wake of the release of Project Yellowhammer documents.

Ministers published the short but controversial five-page document on the possible impact of a no-deal Brexit, titled Operation Yellowhammer “HMG reasonable worst case planning assumptions” last night.

NHS Confederation’s director of international relations Layla McCay told HSJ: “What we really need is not to be working off a document that’s five weeks old.

“We need to see the most up to date planning assumptions and work out where we are up to now.” Read more here.

12.09.19 Government publishes Yellowhammer document

The government last night published the now much-publicised document on risks around a no-deal Brexit titled Operation Yellowhammer “HMG reasonable worst case planning assumptions”.

The document is identical to the one leaked to the Sunday Times last month except a couple of crucial differences.

The version the Sunday Times saw, which ministers had wrongly insisted was “old”, was titled “base scenario” not worst case scenario. Secondly, there were some reductions in the published, although the point does not relate to the NHS.

The five-page document sets out well-publicised concerns about continuity of supply of medicines and medical devices and the fragility of the social care workforce. But the Department of Health and Social Care is facing calls to publish all the documents prepared in support of what represents a very high-level summary of concerns.

10.09.19 NHS Employers chief says he’s “very concerned” by tone of government’s comments on immigration

The chief executive of NHS Employers has warned the tone of the government’s comments on immigration is unwelcome.

Danny Mortimer said: “We are very concerned about the tone of the messaging about what will happen if someone is not registered with [an immigration] scheme by December 2020, with threats of ‘enforcement action, detention and removal as an immigration offender’.

“The welcome words about valuing our current EU colleagues working or living in the UK need to be followed up with positive action that enables the attraction of the workforce desperately needed across social care and health, not the aggressive approach that has caused so much distress in the past.”

09.09.2019: OUR FIRST ‘ABOUT THAT BUS…’ NEWSLETTER IS OUT! ‘About that bus…’: Preparing for ‘Armageddon’ and intense political scrutiny

Our first edition of ‘About that bus…’ newsletter brings you the latest orders to trusts from the NHS’ Brexit chief; warnings of Armageddon from Kent; and considers the risks of an unstable currency market on the NHS’ drug stockpiles for a no-deal Brexit.

06.09.2019: NHS Brexit chief tells trusts to get charging plans sorted – ministers “will want to see a visible change”

The NHS’ Brexit chief has said trusts should grow teams to be ready to charge some European Union patients in the event of a no-deal, as government “will want to see a visible change”.

The warning came as part of wide-ranging address to managers at the Expo conference NHS England’s EU exit strategic commander Keith Willett. He also said his top no-deal concerns were around the loss of social care staff and “behavioural change”. Read more here.

05.09.2019: Hello and Welcome to About that bus…

HSJ’s new blog will give you up-to-date news and views, and the inside track on how the fallout from Brexit is affecting the NHS at national and local level. This blog will be updated in real time as events unfold. You can also sign up for our About that bus… weekly newsletter here which will wrap up the week’s developments with further exclusive content and expert analysis from our team. You can sign up to receive this by subscribing to Daily Insight

Today, we exclusively revealed Kent health services are block-booking hotel rooms for staff and planning with police to get workers and patients through “gridlocked roads” to hospitals as part of preparations for a no-deal Brexit “Armageddon”. Read more here.

Meanwhile, fresh concerns have been raised that drugs stockpiled for a no-deal Brexit could be sold off before the 31 October deadline unless ministers intervene. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry warns a sell-off of stockpiled medicines could be triggered if the pound devalues against the Euro on currency markets, which finance experts say is likely if traders fear the UK will crash out without a deal.  Read more here.