No-deal Brexit ‘will put lives at risk’, according to outgoing Chief Medical Officer

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
A pro-Brexit activist holds a placard outside the Houses of Parliament in London. (Photo by David Cliff / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Medical shortages as a result of a no-deal Brexit could result in deaths, the outgoing Chief Medical Officer for England has warned.

There are fears that leaving the EU without a deal in place could hit imports of medicine and Professor Dame Sally Davies said that people may die as a result.

Last week, NHS Wales unveiled a so-called "Brexit Warehouse" to store around 1,000 extra products including medical gloves, needles and dressings at a cost of about £5 million.

Dame Sally - who has also called for a ban on food on public transport - told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The health service and everyone has worked very hard to prepare.

Professor Dame Sally Davies said that people may die as a result of medical shortages (PA)
Dame Sally believes there could be medical shortages if Britain does not reach a deal with the EU (PA)

"But I say what I've said before - that we cannot guarantee that there will not be shortages, not only in medicines but technology and gadgets and things.

"And there may be deaths, we can't guarantee there won’t."

Pressed whether lives are at risk, she replied firmly: "They are at risk.”

Michael Gove, who is in charge of the government’s no-deal Brexit planning, has denied there is a risk to people’s lives.

When asked in parliament by Labour MP Tracy Brabin if he could guarantee that no one in the country would suffer ill health as a result of a no-deal Brexit, Michael Gove simply responded: “Yes.”

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Dame Sally’s comments come just days after the Government published a Brexit "no-deal readiness" report in which Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that he can "confidently" say the UK is prepared to leave the EU without a deal on October 31.

On the issue of health, the report said: "The UK will continue to play a world-leading role in health security, patient safety and medical advance after Brexit.

Boris Johnson declared that he can 'confidently' say the UK is prepared to leave the EU without a deal on October 31 (AP)

"Opportunities may include innovative regulation of novel advanced therapies and medicines, and a streamlined approach to clinical trial reporting and conduct.

"These strengths in health research will be further supported by fast-track visas for world-leading scientists.”

The report outlines plans to set up a dedicated support unit for suppliers of medical goods in the health sector, with the aim of helping to ensure that companies have the necessary customs paperwork in place for border arrangements ahead of a no-deal scenario.

It says suppliers of all medicines and medical products should ensure they are ready to comply with the new customs and border processes required to import and export goods between the UK and the EU.

The report also says adult social care providers should plan for longer lead times of up to five days for products imported from the EU, and be prepared to receive stock deliveries outside normal hours.

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