THE NHS is making extensive plans for a no-deal Brexit, the chief executive of the health services in England has said.

Simon Stevens told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show the NHS was making preparations for securing medical supplies in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal on customs or trade.

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Around 37 million packs of medicines leave the EU for the UK every year. A Scottish Government spokeswoman described the reports as “deeply concerning”.

Brexit is likely to be one of the biggest challenges for the NHS in its 70th year. This week The National has teamed up with doctors, nurses, campaigners and politicians for a series of features and reports looking at the difficulties and the prospects for the health service in Scotland.

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Last month a leaked government report suggested it would take just two days for Scotland to face shortages of medical supplies and food, if the UK can’t agree a deal.

The dire warning was one of three scenarios drawn up by officials in David Davis’s Department for Exiting the EU. Civil servants modelled a mild scenario, a slightly more severe scenario and another dubbed the “Armageddon” scenario.

Scotland’s supermarket shelves going bare, and patients unable to get vital treatment, was only the slightly more severe scenario. Details of “Armageddon” are not yet known.

The report says the port of Dover would, effectively, “collapse” on day one of a no-deal Brexit.

Some 10,000 trucks pass through the port each day, around 17% of the UK’s entire trade in goods by value. Currently just 2% of the trucks passing through face customs checks.

Stevens told the BBC: “Nobody’s pretending this is a desirable situation, but if that’s where we get to it will not have been unforeseen,” he said.

“There’s been significant planning going on around the scenarios.

“Nobody is in any doubt whatsoever that ... in terms of ensuring continued supplies for all the thing that we need in this country, at the top of the list has got to be those medical supplies.

“There’s extensive work under way now between the Department of Health, other parts of government, the life sciences industry, the pharma companies, so nobody’s pretending this is a desirable situation but if that’s where we get to then it will not have been unforeseen.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There are concerns around the nature of trade deals and how they may impact our NHS, while there is also a huge challenge when it comes to the free movement of workers and ensuring our health service is still able to attract staff from EU nations and beyond.

“It is deeply concerning that there are now also concerns about access to medicines – but that is a direct consequence of the UK Government’s negotiating stance and the threat it has raised in terms of a no-deal scenario.

“We continue to engage with the UK Government about preparations for Brexit – but that is made difficult when the UK Government is unable, even at this late stage, to answer basic questions.

“All these difficulties would be reduced if the UK Government abandoned its plans for a hard Brexit and committed to staying inside the single market and customs union.”