Dispensing practices and other stakeholders in the UK medicines supply chain are reminded of EU Exit Operational Readiness Guidance which will come into effect if the UK leaves the EU without a ratified deal – a ‘no deal’ exit. This will ensure organisations are prepared for, and can manage, the risks in such a scenario.
The guidance covers seven areas including the supply of medicines and vaccines. This states:
- UK health providers should not stockpile additional medicines beyond their business as usual stock levels. There is also no need for clinicians to write longer NHS prescriptions and the public should be discouraged from stockpiling. The responsible person is charged with ensuring compliance with this guidance; over-ordering of medicines or unnecessary export of medicines will be investigated.
- The Department is putting in place a “serious shortage protocol”. This will involve changes to medicines legislation that will allow flexibility in primary care dispensing of medicines. Robust safeguards will be put in place to ensure this is operationalised safely, including making authoritative clinical advice available.
- Public Health England (PHE) will ensure the continuity of supply for centrally-procured vaccines and other products that are distributed to the NHS for the UK National Immunisation Programme or used for urgent public health use.
Other areas covered by the guidance include
- supply of medical devices and clinical consumables
- supply of non-clinical consumables, goods and services;
- reciprocal healthcare
- research and clinical trials
- data sharing, processing and access.
Commenting on last night’s vote in the Commons, DDA chief executive Matthew Isom said: “Maintaining the supply of medicines to UK patients and GP dispensaries must be a priority whatever the eventual approach to Brexit and we are pleased that dialogue on this has already been happening. The DDA, in common with all community pharmacy representatives, has been working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to plan for all potential scenarios, including a no-deal Brexit.
“Given the ongoing uncertainty this work is now more critical than ever and the DDA will deploy all necessary resources to ensure arrangements are rural-proofed. While we hope that Parliament will, in time, be able to reach consensus on the approach to Brexit, our focus will remain on contingency planning with DHSC to ensure that patients can continue to access the medicines they need, when they need them, and that the impact on GP dispensaries is minimised.
The diversion of Government resource to Brexit planning has already pushed back negotiations on dispensing GP reimbursement. This is not an exclusive problem to dispensing practice but we are concerned that this delay is now likely to continue.”