September 2019 saw the publication of the government’s ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ document. This sets out how the government is working to address the potential impact of a ‘reasonable worst case scenario’ if there is a no-deal Brexit. Worryingly, Operation Yellowhammer highlighted that medicines and medical products are particularly vulnerable’ to disruption at ports in the English Channel.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England also published updated advice and information for patients in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Epilepsy Action has been pushing the government to provide more information for patients about how a no-deal Brexit could impact them and what plans are in place to minimise any disruption. This additional information provides answers to some of the questions people with epilepsy have been asking us on this issue.
Updated NHS information
The NHS website now includes an overview of its information on accessing medicines if there is a no-deal Brexit. This includes details about government plans to make sure that medicines continue to be available, deal or no-deal.
An important point made is that people with epilepsy should carry on taking and ordering medicine as normal.
It is also important to remember that patients should not stockpile medicines themselves as this could impact the availability of medicines for other people.
There is also an updated list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). This includes more information about the government’s preparations to make sure medicines continue to be available in the event of a no-deal Brexit. It also includes advice about prescriptions and clinical trials.
Some of the updated NHS information is slightly different for people with epilepsy. This includes some details of the Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP). This is a protocol that sets out what the government and NHS should do in the event of a ‘serious shortage’ of specific medicines.
For additional information about what the Serious Shortage Protocol means for people with epilepsy, you can read our information here.
We welcome the updated patient information and the increased engagement from DHSC with patient organisations, including Epilepsy Action. However, we remain concerned about the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit on people with epilepsy.
We know that the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit can be stressful for some people. We’ll do all we can to carry on keeping people updated as things move forward.