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Resilience in the face of Brexit

Published: 08 Dec 2020 15:45

Plans to protect patients and ensure flow of critical supplies.

Measures to protect medical supplies from the disruption of Brexit have been put in place as part of plans for the end of the transition period.

Intensified preparations will protect patients and supplies during the concurrent challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, winter weather, and Brexit.

A national stockpile of around 60 critical care (ICU) and supportive care, or end of life, medicines is being built, and additional freight capacity has been contracted to ensure critical goods can reach the UK mainland without interruption.

The supply of medical devices and clinical consumables is being managed by National Services Scotland, which has been building up stock at the National Distribution Centre.

Pharmaceutical companies have also been building up stocks of medicines to mitigate for potential disruption at ports.

The clinically-led Scottish Medicine Shortages Response Group will also draw up mitigation recommendations for the NHS when needed.

As well as utilising the Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGORR) arrangements, Police Scotland will also begin a phased activation of the National Coordination Centre and a single, Scotland-wide Multi Agency Coordination Centre (MACC).

Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said:

“It defies belief that with just over three weeks to go before the end of the Brexit transition, and in the middle of a pandemic, we still do not know what trading relationship we will have with the European Union.

“The utterly irresponsible refusal by the UK Government to extend the transition period means that our exit from the EU could not come at a more challenging time.

“The challenges of dealing with the end of transition, the impacts of COVID-19 and our normal winter preparedness work means that our public services will be stretched in a way that has never been experienced before.

“That is why the Scottish Government is putting in place our Brexit response structures based on our existing and well established resilience arrangements.

“Scotland did not vote for any of this. The imposition by the UK Government of the damage of Brexit during the distress of a global pandemic beggars belief.

“We must now do our best to help our fellow citizens through it, but we must also redouble our efforts to give the people of Scotland the choice to leave such chaos behind.” 

Background

A series of extensive contingency plans have already been put in place by the Scottish Government to cope with the damaging impacts of Brexit.

In November the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a £100 million package of measures to support vulnerable people, communities and the Third Sector over winter to help those on low incomes, children and people at risk of homelessness or social isolation cope with economic impact of Brexit, coronavirus and winter weather. 

The MACC is led by Police Scotland as part of the National Coordination Structure. It works with national and local partners such as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Ambulance Service, SEPA,  Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Local Authorities and Health Boards, and through the Local Resilience Partnerships, to assist in mitigating the impacts of the Brexit and the concurrent risks of Covid-19 and winter weather.

EU and UK negotiators are still discussing a potential future relationship agreement to take effect after the Transition Period ends on 31 December.

At present it is not known whether the UK will be operating with or without such an agreement from 1 January 2021.