Dear Prime Minister, and Secretary of State for Health,
We are deeply concerned that the NHS is unprepared for a hard or no deal Brexit and that the people we represent will be the ones to suffer. We want to know what you, personally, will do to address this. We know that the devolved administrations with responsibility for health in their nations have been working hard on this, however, ultimately the danger posed by a No Deal rests with the UK Government.
The seven of us have put our political differences to one side and joined forces to ask our local NHS Trusts whether they have conducted an assessment of the impact of Brexit on their Trust. All Trusts feel unprepared for the impact of Brexit given the ongoing uncertainty.
We now know, from the recent letter from NHS Providers to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and NHS Improvement chief Ian Dalton (which was leaked to the Times), that Trusts are saying that precisely this kind of work is being “hampered by the lack of visible and appropriate communication.”
Their letter also set out how a hard Brexit or no deal could negatively affect “the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals” and “jeopardise” the EU citizens making up the “workforce on which the NHS relies”.
The responses from our own local NHS Trusts reinforce that.
We back the call of NHS Providers for detailed operation planning to start across the NHS without any further delay and we call on you to ensure that the government provides appropriate communication.
We are sending a copy of this letter to the Health Select Committee and ask that they take up this issue also.
Andy Slaughter MP (Liberal Democrat)
Ben Bradshaw MP (Labour)
Dr Paul Williams MP (Labour)
Layla Moran MP (Liberal Democrat)
Tom Brake MP (Liberal Democrat)
Stephen Gethins MP (SNP)
Caroline Lucas MP (Green)
Enclosed: relevant excerpts from the seven NHS Trusts that responded to our requests:
- Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust response: “Whilst the impact of Brexit is not currently formally recognised as a separate risk on the Corporate Risk Register, it is certainly acknowledged that measures need to be taken to counter any risk to staffing numbers that may be posed by Brexit.” (Andy Slaughter MP)
- Royal Devon and Exeter Partnership said "N/A" (Ben Bradshaw MP)
- South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust "has not undertaken any such risk assessments" (Tom Brake MP)
- Epsom and St Heliers University Hospitals NHS Trusts: "We have not conducted or commissioned any kind of risk assessment on the impact of Brexit on any aspect of the operation of the Trust." (Tom Brake MP)
- Oxford University Hospital Trust: "Although the Trust has not completed an official risk assessment on the impact of Brexit on the operations of the Trust, it has implemented a number of changes described below to counteract the talent void and the high turnover." (Layla Moran MP)
- NHS Fife: “Discussion is ongoing at both a National and local level as to the most effective manner in which to carry out an appropriate risk assessment.” (Stephen Gethins MP)
- Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trusts: “We have not conducted a formal, trust-wide risk assessment of the potential impact of Brexit on the Trust, but continue to monitor staffing levels and consider issues as they arise. Changes such as those to international work visas have had a positive impact on our ability to recruit from overseas. Our primary concern is for the job security of those non-British EU citizens who currently work for us. At the moment, these individuals make up 14% of our workforce.” (Caroline Lucas MP)
- University Hospital of North Tees: “Whilst no formal risk assessment has been conducted or commissioned on the potential impact of Brexit on any aspect of the operation of the Trust I can assure you that internal discussions have taken place and continue to take place in relation to that part of the Trust resilience planning. ...our concern at this stage is centred upon the ability to continue to present the Trust and indeed the UK as a viable opportunity for career development and progression to EU and overseas applicants in the future.” (Dr Paul Williams MP)