There continues to be considerable uncertainty about the impact of Brexit on NHS organisations. The Government and the European Union (EU) have agreed to delay the UK exit from the EU. The Prime Minister and EU leaders signed off on a second extension to the Article 50 process and moved the date the UK will leave the EU to 31 October 2019.
How is ELFT Preparing?
The Trust convened a Brexit Planning Committee in 2018 to plan and prepare for the impact of Brexit. Our concerns were that the high possibility of a No Deal Brexit could mean there could be sudden changes or delays in getting the supplies we need. If there is a phased exit agreement reached, the UK withdrawal from the EU will be a more managed process that we can plan and prepare for. So all NHS organisations have been planning for a range of scenarios to ensure we can anticipate the impact on our services
Reassuring Service Users from the EU
Our message to service users from the EU is that we will continue to support and care for you and will assist with any administration needed to secure your status. In the event that there is a shortage of a medicine product you are prescribed, we undertake to inform you straightaway and provide an alternative drug. There is no need to stock up on medication and our clinicians will not be prescribing larger amounts than usual. Stockpiling is underway higher up the supply chain so that all organisations will have equal access to supplies.
The EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) card enables any EU resident to free healthcare in the UK.
In the event of a No Deal Brexit, it will no longer be valid. Free NHS healthcare in an emergency remains in place. We will await guidance on other non-emergency arrangements which are subject to further change. A no deal reciprocal healthcare arrangement is being negotiated country by county through bilateral agreements. The Department of Health will provide updates and further information.
Reassuring EU Colleagues
This is an uncertain time for many EU staff who are unsure what the future holds. Our message to our staff is we want EU colleagues to continue working here in ELFT and we will support them in whatever ways we can to ensure that this happens. We value and appreciate all our staff. They have been recruited for their skills, values and ethics and we don't want them going anywhere! It's important that we look out for each other, that sensitivities are recognised and that we continue to treat one another with respect and care.
We have sought reassurance from all our suppliers that they will be able to fulfil our orders to our satisfaction. Suppliers of medical devices and clinical equipment have been asked to share their contingency plans with us to safeguard stock. Many have stockpiled items in their warehouses.
We are working closely with NHS England. Network meetings and briefings are taking place that we are part of.
Contingency Planning Event
The Trust held an ELFT table-top planning exercise in February 2019 attended by service directors, clinical directors and service leads to test our business continuity plans against a range of scenarios. This was a helpful exercise revealing some common-sense strategies from the participants. It also highlighted areas that could be of concern and would be hard to plan for. Such as the impact on staff or fuel shortages, if tanker deliveries are delayed at ports. We have drawn up a plan from the exercise to have an action template going forward.%%