Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals have warned of Brexit’s “deepening shadow” over the Trust, as the hospitals continue to make contingency plans for a no deal Brexit.
In a report to the board of directors on January 30, Trust Chairman Sir Hugh Taylor said: “Brexit continues to dominate the political landscape – and to cast a deepening shadow over the Trust.
“The risks to the NHS and this Trust of a ‘no deal’ exit at the end of March have been well documented.
“The Trust is now deeply engaged in contingency planning; and we will be reporting on this at the Board meeting.”
As the News has reported, Guy’s and St Thomas’ have a high proportion of EU staff, including one in five midwives – and has already seen a 63 per cent fall in net EU recruitment in the 2016/17 financial year.
The Trust established a steering group in September to develop contingency plans as “the possibility of a No Deal Brexit looked more likely”, the board papers also reveal.
Working groups looking at the supply of medicines, goods and services and clinical prioritisation “in the event of any critical shortages” have also been established by the hospitals.
At an audit committee meeting in November, Trust staff raised fears of the impact of a no deal Brexit on pharmacy, blood products and nuclear medicine isotopes.
These are labelled “key risks” for the Trust, as the vital products cannot be stockpiled and stored for long because of refrigeration requirements.
According to the draft minutes of the November audit committee, officials found: “The number of medicines declared as ‘in shortage’ had doubled since last year though the reasons for this were unclear.
“Changes to medicines prescribed as a result of a ‘no deal’ Brexit could affect patients with potential impact on capacity if patients had to be recalled for these to be implemented.
“There would also be issues were pharmaceutical companies to increase their prices in the event of currency fluctuations and general medicine shortages.”
However, the committee added that the risks and concerns were “speculative at this stage” and that Trusts have been warned not to stockpile medicines as it could cause unnecessary problems.
Separately, Sir Taylor noted the “unprecedently high level of planned care activity” during winter and the “intense” level of pressure on staff at all levels of the organisation.