• New data collections to begin shortly to ascertain Brexit preparedness
  • NHS England, NHS Improvement and Public Health England included in new “operational response centre”

A national “operational response centre” has gone live to deal with any fallout from a no-deal Brexit, while local NHS providers will be subject to new data collections to monitor their preparations.

In a letter sent to all trusts last night, Keith Willett, NHS England’s EU exit strategic commander, said: “The Department [of Health and Social Care] is establishing a national operational response centre (ORC) which includes NHS England, NHS Improvement and Public Health England.

“This will lead on responding to any disruption to the delivery of health and care services in England, that may be caused or affected by EU exit.”

NHS England today confirmed the centre is now operational.

The letter said seven additional regional coordination centres would also be set up across England.

Professor Willett added: “We will be establishing routine reporting across health. This will take the form of national data collections as well as regional information gathering.

“The first collection will occur shortly and be managed by our regional EU exit leads with the EU exit [senior responsible officer] from each NHS organisation.

“The routine of regular reporting will remain under review, but we anticipate this may run for some months, with our own coordination centres remaining operational for up to six to 12 months post-EU exit.”

He also warned trusts that there are just “40 working days before we are due to leave the EU” and told leaders to review their operational guidance “now” if they had not already done so.

He said NHS England’s and NHS Improvement’s “operational response” will be based on enhancing the existing command and control structures used in emergency preparedness, resilience and response.

These protocols include opening an incident coordination centre which allows it to assert emergency powers over clinical commissioning groups if needed.

The letter also said NHS England will arrange “regional events over the coming weeks” to discuss operational responses in more details. HSJ has previously reported that NHS England is planning a “Brexit tour” of trusts.

Professor Willett added: “Thank you for your ongoing support through [the] EU exit, whilst we navigate the challenges this may present both for health and more widely across the country.”