Brexit preparation by NHS Lothian and West Lothian Council

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Health and Social Care bosses have set-up a Brexit team to monitor its potential impact on the delivery of health care services – including vital medicines and food supply in care facilities. 

A report to West Lothian’s Integrated Joint Board highlights the work being undertaken within both West Lothian Council and NHS Lothian as the Brexit deadline of October 31 looms.

The report outlines  an increased amount of collaborative working between the council and the  trust, with an emphasis on maintaining a continuity of service in the event of major upheavals.

The report’s author, Carol Bebbington from NHS Lothian warns: “Although health and social care arrangements are being progressed to take account of the emerging risks associated with Brexit,  there remains a great deal of uncertainty.” 

The specific healthcare-related risks include the potential for drug shortages and the disruption to the supply chain of medicines and clinical supplies. 

Scottish Government guidelines have already been issued with advice against over-prescription of drugs and warnings to people against stockpiling.

The report also warns of increased costs for medicines and supplies and a potential further economic squeeze on the council suggesting: “a downturn in the economy could result in further public spending constraints.”

The council has its own Brexit Corporate Working Group which includes representatives across council services including managers from Social Policy. This group is responsible for identifying council wide risks and mitigating actions. 

In terms of social care, key risks include increased staffing recruitment difficulties, staff leaving the care sector and the financial risk that care providers might have to increase hourly pay rates to stimulate local recruitment. Food supply may also be an issue for residential care facilities.