HSJ brings you an end-of-week fix of Brexit roundup health news.
Arm’s-length bodies are having to send all public texts, tweets, emails, phone calls and press releases that touch on Brexit to the Department of Health and Social Care for clearance, HSJ disclosed this week.
This followed on from a bit of a Twitter storm some days earlier when the NHS Blood and Transplant Authority had the temerity to announce to followers that blood donation sessions would not take place in the Dover area for a period of six weeks, to avoid potential traffic disruption during Brexit.
The DHSC’s communications director said in a leaked missive: “You will have seen the story in the media, earlier this week, about NHSBT cancelling blood donation sessions. This was not cleared either through the EU exit comms team, at DHSC, or through the secretary of state. At a time of some uncertainty, it is important the public gets consistent and clear information.
“We have been very clear with your EU exit leads that every piece of external communication must be cleared through us. I am confident your teams know this, and they have been working well with my team, but the right clearance processes were not followed on this occasion. Can you please reinforce the message with your teams that every piece of communication, from an email to suppliers, a letter, press notice and, in this case, texts and phone calls to the public, need to be flagged, and cleared, with my team. I also expect a representative to be on our weekly ALB comms call.”
NHS Blood and Transport’s decision on cautiously reorganising donations has since been overturned, presumably also at the behest of external forces. This has provided a salutary lesson for the rest of the service – although the centre has ordered that lots of no deal Brexit planning take place, with directors designated and multiple preparation forms issued to be shuffled and populated, what is definitely not required is anyone to actually do anything.
Avoiding total chaos ‘preferable’ – claim
The week’s main development in domestic Brexit politics was the series of Commons votes on Thursday night, in which the government’s motion was defeated – though that has no actual impact. A key plank of the dispute is whether leaving with “no deal” is a real possibility.
The Brexit Health Alliance, one of a complex web of health related Brexit-y national representative coalitions, issued its feelings about the matter the morning after.
“Every part of the health sector is working flat out to reduce the impact of ‘no deal’ on patients and the public,” said NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dixon, presumably having in mind hard-pressed comms directors going beyond the call of duty to finely tune their slap downs. Just sharp enough to remain polite while still landing a blow. The civil service is at its most remarkable in a crisis.
He went on: “But there are still too many risks and this could endanger lives. It may be stating the obvious but abruptly ending collaboration on medicines and devices, clinical research, treatments for rare diseases, public health, and access to healthcare while abroad is not good for patients…
“For the safety of patients, an agreement with a transition period would be preferable to ‘no-deal’.”
It was, indeed, stating the obvious.