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Health / No guarantees on patient care post Brexit

THE CHIEF Executive of NHS Shetland has said he can give no assurance patient care will be unaffected post-Brexit.

Ralph Roberts said that the local health board has been lobbying Holyrood and Westminster to the effect that Shetland is at the end of a long supply chain and especially vulnerable to shortages.

NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph RobertsNHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts. Photo: Shetland News

His comments came in response to questions from Integration Joint Board vice chairman Allison Duncan whether insulin and other vital drugs could be in short supply following a hard Brexit.

Roberts said: “I cannot give you the assurance that there will be no impact on patient care as a result of Brexit.”

He said that the government had advised NHS Shetland and health boards across the country not to stockpile medicines, as this will exacerbate shortages.

Roberts said that there was no hard information on a rise in costs of medicines but that the factors involved in a rise were “multi-faceted” and not just as a result of Brexit uncertainty.

He said that NHS Shetland was largely tied to national procurement routes and that the work to ensure medical supplies remain uninterrupted was being undertaken at higher level.

Chief finance officer Karl Williamson said that if the price of medicines was to increase significantly then the government would need to step in an support that increase.

Service users representative Maggie Gemmill asked for assurance that medicines would be stored correctly following an error in 2017 that saw vaccines being stored at the wrong temperature, leading to a re-vaccination programme in the isles.

This received an emphatic affirmative from Roberts.