• Government exploring if NHS trusts should stockpile certain products in case of a no-deal Brexit
  • National clinical leads identifying potential products
  • Brexit advice set to be issued to trusts 

NHS providers could be asked to stockpile certain types of products under government plans to mitigate the UK leaving the EU without an agreed deal.

David Wathey, head of supply resilience and sustainability at the Department of Health and Social Care, said the government is working with national clinical leads to identify which products would be “beneficial” for local NHS trusts to hold extra stocks of.

The DHSC’s policy overall is to discourage trusts from stockpiling medicines, medical equipment and clinical consumables, but to ask suppliers to increase stock levels by an extra six weeks’ worth.

The UK will leave the EU on 29 March next year.

Speaking at an Association of British Healthtech Industries conference, Mr Wathey said it may be “prudent” and “beneficial” for local trusts to hold extra stocks of emergency treatment products, potentially along with other categories of products.

“We’re working with national clinical directors to try and identify what areas we may need to consider trying to hold further supplies,” Mr Wathey said.

“We don’t believe at this point in time it would be effective to ask every provider organisation to increase their overall stocks. This would, in some cases, put an unmanageable amount of pressure on supply chains.”

He said advice would be issued to trusts which will help them “plan broadly” for when the UK leaves the EU.

Last month, trusts were asked to submit assessments about the impact of a no-deal Brexit on their supply chains.

Meanwhile, the department has convened a working group comprising of government officials, a “small sample” of suppliers, and trade associations to discuss plans to “ensure the continued flow of products that might need to be supplied within a 24-72 hours basis,” Mr Wathey said.

This is particularly aimed at suppliers who do not have sufficient infrastructure or logistics capacity to hold six weeks’ worth of stock in the UK.

“Our aim is to ensure continuity of supply of all medical devices and clinical consumables,” Mr Wathey said.

“We’re not trying to prioritise one over the other. We recognise what the risks are of trying to substitute products in a clinical environment. It’s a situation we want to avoid.”