The NHS is preparing to stockpile medicine in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the new health secretary has admitted.
Matt Hancock said yesterday that although he was confident the UK would strike a deal, it was “responsible” to prepare for all circumstances.
He said the government would safeguard the chain of “medical supplies, vaccines, medical devices, clinical consumables, blood products”.
“We are working with industry for the potential need for stockpiling in the event of a no-deal Brexit,” he said.
Speaking in front of the Health Select Committee, he revealed some medicines with a short shelf life may have to be flown in “where there is difficult access to ports”.
“I hope that even under a no-deal scenario that there will still be smooth movement in through ports,” he added.
Meanwhile, Brexit secretary Dominic Raab told the Exiting the European Union Committee the government would “make sure that there’s adequate food supplies” in a no-deal situation.
“It would be wrong to describe it as the government doing the stockpiling,” he said.
Raab’s comments came on the last day before MPs break up for the six-week parliamentary summer recess. Earlier in the day he revealed plans to the House of Commons that would mean EU law would continue to apply for 18 months longer than originally intended.
Unveiling a white paper containing the government’s Withdrawal and Implementation Bill, Raab said the plan was to extend jurisdiction for the European Communities Act (ECA), until the end of the Brexit transition period, December 2020. Originally the ECA was supposed to be repealed by March 2019, when Britain officially leaves the EU.
The white paper says it will be necessary to “ensure that EU law continues to apply in the UK during the implementation period”.
Raab added: “The EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill will contain a time-limited provision so that parts of the ECA are saved until the 31st of December 2020.
“These changes will ensure that our statute book functions properly throughout the implementation period, according with the agreement we have made with the EU.”
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