No-deal Brexit would cause lasting damage to health sector, says minister

The health and social care system will face “damaging and lasting consequences” if the UK Government does not rule out a no-deal Brexit, it has been claimed.

Scotland’s public health minister, Joe Fitzpatrick, also described the lack of guarantees over medical supplies in the event of a no-deal as “completely unacceptable”.

Mr Fitzpatrick will attend a four nations EU exit meeting of health ministers in London on Monday.

“There are now 18 days until the UK is due to leave the European Union and we have still received no guarantee from the UK Government that supplies of medicines will continue uninterrupted,” said Mr Fitzpatrick.

“This is completely unacceptable. I will reiterate that the UK Government must immediately rule out a no-deal Brexit.

“Failure to do so risks inflicting damaging and lasting consequences on our health and social care system.

“I will also make clear that we expect Scotland’s needs to be taken fully into account as part of the Department of Health and Social Care’s planning for EU exit.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work closely with NHS Scotland health boards to ensure they are as prepared as possible for all Brexit scenarios, and that the EU citizens who make such a tremendous contribution to our health and social care system get all the support, advice and reassurance they need.”

The UK is set to depart the EU on March 29, however no deal has been agreed after MPs voted to reject the plan put forward by Prime Minister Theresa May.

MPs will vote again on the proposals on Tuesday. If the deal is rejected again, they will be able to vote on whether to leave without a deal or to delay the date of departure.

A UK Government spokesman said: “An orderly Brexit is in the UK’s best interests and the best way to achieve that is for MPs of all parties to support the Prime Minister’s deal.

“The deal is a good one for Scotland, Wales and the whole of the UK – it delivers the result of the referendum, gives us a close future partnership with the EU, and guarantees citizens’ rights.

“Refusing to support the Prime Minister’s deal simply makes a damaging no deal more likely.”

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