Pharmacists need more information about how they can guarantee stock supplies and patient safety in the event of a no-deal Brexit, says The Pharmacist's editor-in-chief Beth Kennedy

There has been a plethora of Brexit-related news over the past few days, following Theresa May's controversial draft withdrawal agreement with the European Union (EU). But among the flurry of stories about MP resignations and cabinet infighting came one, to my mind, rather more alarming report.

Yesterday (15 November), The Times newspaper reported that the health secretary Matt Hancock had told the cabinet he cannot guarantee there will be no deaths if Britain exits the EU without a deal.

While The Pharmacist did not receive confirmation from No. 10 that Mr Hancock had said this, when questioned about it by BBC Radio 4, the health secretary did not deny it and said: ‘No deal is not pretty… we need to make sure everyone does what’s necessary to have the unhindered flow of medicines that people need.’

From this I think we can assume that, if indeed Mr Hancock does believe that a no-deal Brexit could lead to deaths, this would be due to medicines shortages – an issue that our readers have told us time and time again already threatens patient safety to a worrying degree.

Naturally, reports that our very own health secretary isn't convinced that no one will die if we leave the EU without a deal is far from reassuring. Because whatever your views on Brexit, I can't imagine anyone being willing to literally die for the cause.

The Government has many times over promised that it is making the requisite arrangements to stockpile as much medication as the country needs in the event of a no-deal situation. However, industry experts have cast doubts on whether it is feasibly possible for the Government to carry out these plans in time for March.

Add to this the Government's rather ominous advice for patients and the pubic to not stockpile medication only adds to the creeping fear that Britain will simply not have enough medicines on hand once it leaves the EU.

The prospect of medicines shortages becoming even worse post-Brexit is a deeply concerning one. The Pharmacist's #WarOnShortages campaign highlighted just how badly shortages have been affecting patients and pharmacists alike and sought to alleviate some of the pressures they caused. But it's becoming increasingly clear that Brexit could very well take medicines shortages towards breaking point.

That's why we've decided to carry on our fight for transparency over stock shortages by shifting the focus of our campaign onto how Brexit is affecting the issue. Over the next few months and beyond, we'll be bringing you all the latest news on Britain's exit from the EU so you can make sure you and your teams are as prepared as possible to battle any Brexit challenge that comes your way.

The finer details of Brexit are still all too unclear, but one thing is certain; we at The Pharmacist will be there to help you every step of the way.

How are shortages affecting your buisness? Tweet us @Pharmacist_News with the hashtag #WarOnShortages to share your stories