• Guy’s and St Thomas’ sets up working group to determine which patients have priority if there are shortages
  • Taskforce is one of eight the trust has established to manage consequences of a no-deal Brexit
  • Teaching hospital trust is latest to warn about effect on patient care

A major teaching hospital is putting plans in place to prioritise which patients to treat if a no-deal Brexit causes critical shortages in drugs and/or medical devices.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust has established a steering group, which is considering which patients will be at the front of the queue for treatment if a disorderly Brexit causes drugs to run short.

The London trust runs one of England’s major cancer centres and has 2.4 million patient contacts a year across its many services.

In her report to the trust’s board today, chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “The trust has been developing contingency plans for Brexit over the last few months and set up a steering group in September 2018 as the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit looked more likely.

“The trust has established working groups across areas [including workforce, reciprocal healthcare and medicine supply] and added an [eighth] work stream to determine the process for clinical prioritisation which would be followed in the event of any critical shortages.”

The organisation is the latest of England’s major hospital trusts to raise the alarm about what a no-deal Brexit could mean.

The chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham FT warned non-urgent procedures might have to be cancelled.

In a memo to his board this month, Dave Rosser said medicine shortage in the event of a “chaotic” no-deal Brexit meant it was “inevitable” that the trust would need to “curtail some surgical interventional activity”.

He continued: “If the trust is in the binary situation of having to postpone most of all non-urgent surgical and interventional activity, it would significantly affect waiting times for our patients. At our current rate of operating, this could see our waiting list size increase by 15 per cent of its current size each month.

“This inevitably creates another risk for patients of their condition deteriorating, increasing morbidity preoperatively, impairing the quality of outcomes after interventions and potentially increasing the mortality whilst awaiting surgery.”

Despite assurances about central stockpiling, Dr Rosser said he was not “able to assure the board that the supply of medical stocks will be adequate for our operational needs” and there were already “credible” reports of pharmaceutical supply problems.

This was partly because there remained “little-verified data available about the consequences of exit, especially one in which there is no deal”.

He added: “In the event of a chaotic, no deal exit, many NHS trusts could quickly run out of vital medical supplies.”

Earlier in the week, the boss of University College Hospitals FT said the communications he had received from the Department of Health and Social Care were “very close to panic”.

Marcel Levi reported to his board: “Though we all hope and think all this is unnecessary, it’s impossible not to do anything.

“We normally have a stock of four to six weeks for most medication. That gives us a little bit of time to see what is going to happen. For medical supplies, we only have a stock of one to two days.”

London North West University Hospitals Trust identified several no-deal concerns, including over data governance, that have not been made public by other bodies.

It is also setting up a specialist courier service to manage the transfer of medicines that need to be kept refrigerated.