Brexit: Government publishes worst case scenarios

Brexit: Government publishes worst case scenarios

September 12, 2019

The Government has released details of its planning for a no-deal Brexit (known as ‘Operation Yellowhammer’) following a Parliamentary motion requesting the documentation be made public.

The Worse Case Planning Assumptions document considers the various scenarios that could happen if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in order to mitigate these issues.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has been working closely with representatives from across the medicines supply chain, including PSNC, for over a year to put robust plans in place to ensure the continuity of supply. Contingency arrangements include:

  • Improving the readiness of manufacturers and importers for new border arrangements;
  • Securing additional roll-on, roll-off freight capacity away from Dover and Folkestone (seen as key pressure points) for medicines to continue to come into the UK from 31st October;
  • Building up buffer stocks of prescription-only and pharmacy medicines (by DHSC and industry) in the UK before 31st October;
  • Buying extra warehouse space to hold additional stock;
  • Booking space on aeroplanes for products that require an immediate shipment due to short shelf-life or specific storage conditions;
  • Making changes to regulatory requirements so companies can continue to sell their products in the UK even if we have no deal; and
  • Strengthening the processes and resources used to deal with shortages in the event that they do occur despite everyone’s efforts.

Further information is available in a letter to suppliers from DHSC’s Chief Commercial Officer, Steve Oldfield, which was sent on 26th June 2019.

In response to the release of the Yellowhammer Planning Assumptions, DHSC has said:

“We want to reassure the public that we are working closely with partners across the health and care system and industry to take all appropriate steps to prepare for Brexit on 31 October, whatever the circumstances. Our robust plans should help ensure the supply of medicines and medical products remains uninterrupted.”

PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes said:

“HM Government had what was in effect a robust dress rehearsal for a no-deal Brexit at the start of this year, and we are confident that they have learned lessons from that experience and are now even better prepared for a possible no-deal Brexit. While nobody can predict what may or may not happen in a no-deal Brexit scenario, we are clear that ensuring the supply of medicines to patients, via community pharmacies, must continue to be a focus and we will keep working with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to ensure that it is.”

PSNC on BBC radio

Gordon Hockey, PSNC Director of Operations and Support, was interviewed for BBC Radio 5 Live’s Drive programme. He described DHSC’s multi-layered approach to ensure continuity of medicines supply, including alternative ferry routes and buffer stock being collected by manufacturers. Whilst Gordon said it was right to take this issue seriously, he explained that DHSC has been meeting regularly with representatives from across the supply chain (including national pharmacy organisations) to put together robust plans, and additional work has been possible using extra money made available by the Government.

Listen to Gordon’s interview (c. 2hr 8mins in)

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