- NHS England chief Simon Stevens said plans are being drawn up to maintain imports of medical supplies and equipment if UK crashes out of the EU
- He told the Andrew Marr Show that maintaining supplies such as blood plasma packs were top of the list
- Mr Stevens also said every hospital had been written to asking them to reach out to their EU staff
- He suggested there should be new funding for social care
Contingency plans are being drawn up to ensure the UK crashing out of the EU does not jeopardise access to vital medical supplies and equipment, NHS England boss Simon Stevens confirmed today.
The NHS commissioning body’s chief executive told the Andrew Marr Show that the government had carried out “extensive” planning work in case of a no-deal Brexit.
He stressed that since last autumn there was now “significant” planning going around a number of scenarios including a ’no deal’ exit and added: “There is immediate planning the health department with other parts of government are undertaking around securing medicine supplies and equipment under different scenarios.
“That will obviously crystallise in the autumn when it’s clear what the UK’s position will be.
“There’s now significant planning going on around all the scenarios including this medicine supply scenario.”
When pressed on whether he could guarantee that hundreds of millions of packs of medicine imported monthly from the EU including packs of blood plasma will still be available in a no-deal Brexit Mr Stevens said these items were “top of the list”.
He added: “No one is in any doubt whatsoever that top of the list in terms of ensuring continued supply for all the things we need in this country, right at the top of the list has to be these medical supplies.
“No one is pretending this is a desirable situation but if that’s where we get to then it will not have been unforeseen.”
During the wide ranging interview this morning Mr Stevens also said that every hospital had been written to asking them to reach out ot their EU staff in relation to their right to remain after Brexit.
But while he stressed the importance of EU workers to the NHS, Mr Stevens said it was important to create more home-grown doctors and nurses.
He added: “Every hospital has now been written to asking them to reach out to their staff from the rest of EU reminding them that the home secretary has set a clear process by which people can apply to stay in this country which we hope they will do.
“But alongside our reliance on international staff we obviously also want to boost the training and availability of British-trained staff.”
Mr Stevens said the five new medical schools announced in March would lead to a 25 per cent increase in the number of “home-grown” doctors and said the same had to be done in nursing and other disciplines.
His comments come just days after the NHS Pay Review Body warned ministers the workforce gap will “persist until 2027” unless action is taken.
Mr Stevens also suggested that there would be new money for social care services, although declined to say how it shouild be funded.
Prime minister Theresa May pledged the an average real-terms funding increase of 3.4 per cent over the next five years, but did not set out any new cash for social care.
Mr Stevens said today this increase will allow the NHS to do “more than stand still” and leaders will work with staff and patient groups to draw up the long-term plan over the next five months.
But he stressed Mrs May had guaranteed that any settlement for social care will not pile more pressure on NHS services.
When pushed if this means more money for social care, he said that was the “obvious implication”.
Mr Stevens added: “The prime minister is explicit that the settlement for social care will be such that there will not be extra pressure coming into the NHS.”