UK health services fear consequences of no-deal Brexit

The resumption of Brexit talks on Tuesday after the summer recess was partly overshadowed by claims that the UK health service is unprepared for a no-deal and another warning that such an outcome would further destabilise the international order.
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By Martin Banks

22 Aug 2018

First, the group representing hospitals and ambulance services in England warned of a lack of “contingency planning” to deal with the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the health service.

Separately, UK foreign minister Jeremy Hunt warned that a no-deal Brexit would further destabilise the international order at an “extremely vulnerable” moment in European history.

Hunt was making his first diplomatic visit to Washington since his appointment.

Both warnings come as the UK’s Brexit secretary Dominic Raab held the latest round of negotiations with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier in Brussels.

Ahead of the Brussels meeting, a leaked email to NHS England boss Simon Stevens from a group called NHS Providers said leaving the EU without agreement would immediately be a real risk to services.

The group warned it would make it harder to stop the spread of diseases.

NHS England said preparing for every possible Brexit outcome was a priority.

The UK Department of Health said it was confident of reaching a Brexit deal that benefits the NHS but was preparing for “the unlikely event of no-deal”, to prevent disruption to patients.

Meanwhile, it was reported on Tuesday that European Commission officials have been preparing contingency plans that would allow the EU to take unilateral measures to keep trade with the UK open in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

According to reports, the unilateral measures could include maintaining certain regulatory permissions, such as safety certificates for airlines, as well as applying new customs tariffs based on estimates of the volume of trade with the UK. However, these are expected to be temporary measures to avoid immediate damage to trade, and to keep aircrafts moving, after the UK’s withdrawal.

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