British group warns hospitals could run out of drugs with 'no deal' Brexit
'Entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals' could be affected by failure to reach deal, NHS Providers group says
A group that represents U.K. hospitals and ambulance services has warned that its members may run out of drugs if Britain leaves the European Union without an agreement on future relations.
In a letter published Tuesday, NHS Providers said a lack of "visible and appropriate communication" from the government is hampering preparations for a so-called no-deal Brexit.
The letter to National Health Service bosses was leaked to the Times of London. In it, the group's chief executive says it would be more efficient to develop contingency plans nationally rather than "have to reinvent the wheel 229 times."
Chris Hopson said "the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals" could be affected by the failure to reach a deal, adding it could also "jeopardize" the EU workforce "on which the NHS relies."
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, and aims to hammer out an agreement with the bloc on divorce terms and the outlines of future trade in the next few months so it can be approved by individual EU countries before Brexit day.
But talks are bogged down amid infighting within Prime Minister Theresa May's divided Conservative government, and fears of a "no-deal" Brexit are growing. Last week, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics put the chances of getting a Brexit deal at 50-50.
British businesses have warned that leaving without a deal could cause mayhem for trade and travel, bringing higher food prices, logjams around U.K. ports and disruption to everything from aviation to medical supplies.
The U.K. government says it remains confident of reaching a deal, but is preparing for all outcomes.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Tuesday that the chance of no deal was "not negligible," and that outcome would be bad both for Britain and for the EU.
Britain Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab is in Brussels on Tuesday to meet chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier for a new round of talks.
On Thursday, the U.K. government plans to publish the first in a series of technical reports outlining the effects a no-deal Brexit would have on various sectors and offering advice to businesses and the public on how to prepare.