27 Sep 2019

This morning has seen the publication of a statement from Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, highlighting concerns around the risk of delays to supplies for health and social care if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The statement highlights that the National Audit Office (NAO) has found that there is still significant work to be done in order to mitigate risks from this scenario. This includes improving government’s understanding of preparedness across the supplier base, putting in place sufficient freight capacity to carry priority goods, and improving the readiness of the social care sector, including nursing homes.

The BDA has for some time expressed concerns about the potential impact of a no deal exit on people who rely on nutrition support, as many specialist nutrition products are manufactured outside the UK. Although the government has offered assurances that supplies will be protected, disruption seems inevitable.

Clinically prescribed specialist nutrition products are, for some of the most vulnerable patients, their only source of nutrition and hydration. There are hundreds of thousands of people living with a wide range of illnesses and conditions who are in clinical need of these products in order to survive. Stockpiling of these bulky items is not a viable solution, even in the short term, due to their perishability.

The NHS has issued advice to patients and healthcare professionals to outline the steps they have taken to ensure continuity of supply of medicines and other essential healthcare products.

We have recently written, along with our colleagues at the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN), to the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to express our concerns and seek assurances. We are currently waiting for a response.