NHS trusts will be asked to assess the impact of a no deal Brexit on their supply chain of goods and equipment, HSJ can reveal.

This week the Department of Health and Social Care is set to instruct all trusts to carry out a detailed study of what impact the UK leaving the EU without a deal would have on their ability to purchase and maintain vital stock.

It comes two months after the government told the NHS not to stockpile medicines ahead of Brexit, which takes place on March 29.

The NHS spends nearly £6bn every year on common goods, devices, and medical equipment. 

HSJ understands a review of the main suppliers to the NHS Supply Chain, the national system through which trusts can choose to buy products, has already been carried out by the government.

But NHS trusts in total use tens of thousands of different suppliers for all the equipment needed to provide care to patients, and usage of NHS Supply Chain varies dramatically.

A spokesman for the DHSC confirmed to HSJ that letters would be sent to trusts this week, but he would not comment further on the exact instructions.

Immediately after Brexit, existing UK regulations on procurement – which include EU directives – will continue to apply.

The UK government wants to maintain the country’s membership of the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Government Procurement. This involves the UK opening up certain higher value public procurement opportunities to other countries, in exchange for their procurement markets being opened up in a similar way – according to a briefing published last month by the House of Commons Library.