Concerns over a medical supply shortage in the case of a no deal Brexit are no more than “scaremongering,” an NHS procurement head has said.
Alan Hoskins, procurement director for NHS South of England, told SM the health service regularly stockpiles drugs and medical equipment, and that rumours that the UK will not be able to access “critical products” are unfounded.
He said he believed the UK already had “certain products and drugs that are stockpiled for a pandemic,” and that Brexit contingency planning was “nothing different to what we deal with on a regular basis”.
The NHS has faced raw material shortages and epidemics before, such as during the 2009 swine flu outbreak, for which products were “stocked ahead to ensure the supply chain was secure,” he said.
“It's not anything new, it's part of what we do as a profession,” he added. “That doesn't mean that we won’t build stocks of certain products, [but] the country is already equipped for it.”
Hoskins, who is also chief officer of Health Care Supply Association, said there was plenty of capacity in terms of warehouses and other spaces: “It is just about turning on some of that space as required and using it.”
“It's very much scaremongering and I don't think it will have anywhere near the effect that people think it will,” he said.
Last month, health secretary Matt Hancock said the government was working with the NHS on the “potential need for stockpiling in the event of a no deal Brexit”.
Speaking in front of the Health Select Committee, he said the UK may be forced to safeguard the chain of “medical supplies, vaccines, medical devices, clinical consumables [and] blood products”, and that products with a short shelf life may need to be flown in “where there is difficult access to ports”.