When it comes to getting ready for Brexit, and Brexit itself, questions of ‘when?’, ‘whether?’ and ‘how?’ are still abound.
With many key questions unanswered, and the landscape of ‘what may happen regarding Brexit’ changing with each week (or even each day), people with diabetes are wondering how the shifting sands will affect them.
Getting ready for Brexit – healthcare
‘Get Ready for Brexit’ is the current slogan being advertised on billboards. The phrase rings out a little like ‘Winter is Coming’. Given the difficulty in reaching a cohesive decision in Parliament, it sometimes seems like ‘prepare for the unexpected’ may be the message of ‘Get Ready for Brexit’.
The government is trying to address some of the uncertainty by providing the UK public with a set of actions that they may need to take.
Take the Get Ready for Brexit interactive questionnaire.
Upon visiting the Get Ready for Brexit part of the government site, you can follow an interactive flowchart. After answering several questions, you are provided with a set of actions to take and information to read up on.
Depending on what answers you give, there may be action to take regarding healthcare.
When selecting a ‘citizen living in the UK’ option, I didn’t trigger a response relevant to action needing to be taken regarding healthcare, but other options may, so it is well worth following the set of questions to see if action is recommended for you.
What type of Brexit?
Some of the options include:
- No deal
- Public vote
- No Brexit at all
The ‘no deal’ Brexit option presents the most immediate uncertainty for healthcare and for many other aspects of life of in the UK. For people who rely on insulin, uncertainty of the mid- to long-term availability of the medication may present a particular worry.
Striking a deal with the EU should reduce some of the uncertainty regarding healthcare compared to the ‘no deal’ option.
The no Brexit option cannot be ruled out and there have been calls to re-appraise the options with a public vote now that the public is more aware of what leaving the EU could entail.
“Will I be able to get my insulin after Brexit?” If a deal is struck, the right grounding should be in place to ensure that the NHS can continue to provide medication to people who need it.
The cost of medication to the NHS may be subject to change and other factors to do with Brexit may have consequences on the NHS funding of certain treatments.
The no Brexit at all option provides the most certainty as the NHS will be ‘business as usual’. Insulin supplies and cost to the NHS would therefore be unaffected.
The ‘no deal’ option presents the most uncertainty. So far, the information we have is that insulin manufacturers are keeping stockpiles of at least 16 weeks’ of insulin ready in case a ‘no deal’ Brexit comes to pass.
Should ‘no deal’ happen, people who need insulin will be in a position of hoping that a deal occurs quickly. Being left ‘waiting on a deal’ as stockpiles begin to diminish could prove to be very worrying for many people reliant on insulin.
The NHS is a huge organisation and is the largest employer in all of Europen, with over 1 million members of staff. 
Depending on how Brexit plays out, there could be significant impact on the NHS including the following areas:
- Staffing levels
- Cost of medication and equipment
- Overall budget
- Research carried out by the NHS
Her Majesty’s Government Worst Case Planning Assumptions (also known as Operation Yellowhammer) document tells us very little about how healthcare would be affected by a no deal Brexit.
One aspect covered by the Yellowhammer document is that food and water supplies could be affected by a no deal Brexit.
The document states that “certain types fresh food supply will decrease” and that price of food will increase, which “could impact vulnerable groups”.
Reduced availability of fresh food and price increases are likely to be particularly significant for people with diabetes.
If Britain exits the EU under a deal, prices and availability may be affected but this option should greatly minimise the worst-case scenarios.
‘What next?’ is the question on many of our minds. There have been many twists and turns already and it seems as though the future has many possible paths ahead in terms of Brexit and its consequences.
How will healthcare be affected within the next year? What changes will we see to food? Time will tell and we will keep an eye on new developments.
1. NHS. (n.d.). Working in the NHS. [Accessed 28/10/2019].
2. Her Majesty’s Government. (2019). Operation Yellowhammer HMG Worst Case Planning Assumptions. [Accessed 28/10/2019].