• Travel disruption seen as key risk to trust if there is no deal
  • Voluntary sector could be asked to help
  • Boots on call for medicines

NHS staff could be asked to sleep at their workplace if travel is disrupted under a no-deal Brexit, under plans being drawn up by one trust in the south east of England.

Staff could also be asked to work from different places under the plans by Kent Community Health Foundation Trust.

The trust is mapping where staff live and work. It is also looking at different methods of travel, making more use of the voluntary sector, and alternative ways of communicating, according to its board papers.

It is encouraging staff to download Skype for Business, replacing some telephones with better ones, and investigating the purchase of laptops. The trust has also made an agreement with Boots for 24 hour access to medicines, through an on-call pharmacist, if there are difficulties in getting supplies.

The trust is likely to be one of the NHS organisations most affected by any major traffic delays at the Channel ports – along with East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust, whose trauma centre is just minutes off the M20, a key route to Dover.

Kent Community Health has set up a small team to coordinate the trust’s response to Brexit, and disruption to travel in the event of a “no-deal” exit is seen as the key risk, with border checks at Dover, Ramsgate and the Eurotunnel terminal potentially creating gridlock.

“The potential impact of Brexit on Kent’s roads could be significant. The police are planning for between three and six months of disruption to Kent roads,” a paper to yesterday’s board meeting warned.

It added that NHS organisations would be required to attend “command groups” set up by the police to co-ordinate plans to cope with the disruption such as parking lorries at the disused Manston airport in Thanet. The trust is taking part in a multiagency “table top” exercise in mid-February.

The trust’s risk register also warns of the risk of delayed delivery of equipment and medicines and the health risk to people in the area if “Operation Brock” is implemented. This would see lorries parked at various points – options examined have included using the village of Manston, parts of the M20 but with a contraflow system, and the M26.

Chief executive Paul Bentley said: “We have a duty to make sure we are always able to look after our patients and deliver high quality services, as well as making sure our staff are able to provide that care.

“We are working with colleagues across the health and social care sector – nationally, regionally and locally, including the Kent Resilience Forum in which we are a partner – to prepare for all eventualities, however unlikely, including potential traffic disruption on Kent’s roads.”