MEMBERS of the public should not take steps to stockpile their medicines ahead of a possible No-Deal Brexit, Scotland’s top doctor and chief pharmacist have both warned.

A joint letter from the Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood and the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Dr Rose Marie Parr has been issued to health and social care professionals providing them with further advice on ensuring medicine supplies in the event of a No-Deal Brexit.

The letter warns that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, new controls on the entry of goods from the EU into the UK will need to be introduced. This is likely to cause delays at ports of entry and a slow-down in the flow of medicines and medicine supplies into the UK.

The two chief officers warn: “Members of the public, GPs, community pharmacies, hospitals and social care providers should not stockpile.”

The letter outlines what steps are being taken in Scotland to ensure continuity of supply of medicines and medical devices and to support prescribers if shortages arise.

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It states: “Steps have therefore been taken to build stockholdings of medicines, medical devices and clinical consumables in the UK. Pharmaceutical companies supplying medicines that enter the UK from the EU have been asked to increase their UK stock holding to ensure a minimum of an additional six weeks’ supply on top of normal levels. Reports from the UK Government and from companies suggest high levels of compliance with this request.

“The NHS, through National Procurement, has undertaken the same activity for supplies of medical devices and clinical consumables. Public Health England has built its stockholdings of vaccines on behalf of all the UK countries and seasonal flu vaccines, which are procured by NHS Scotland, have already been delivered and are being distributed across Scotland.”

The letter outlines the procedures to be be followed should there be shortages, and effectively it is the same procedure that is currently used for reporting shortages.

As the letter states: “Shortages of some medicines are a regular occurrence in the NHS and there are wellestablished procedures in place to manage shortages.”

It adds: The UK Government and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are cooperating to detect, monitor and manage shortages. Supply is being monitored on a weekly cycle and issues that require attention are submitted to a UK Medicines Shortages Response Group.

“A Scottish Medicines Shortages Response Group (MSRG) has also been convened and meets regularly.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Brexit is a crisis created by the UK Government, made worse by their refusal to rule out a disastrous No-Deal exit. The reality is the supply of medicines and medical devices to Scotland will be impacted if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, meaning there is a risk of shortages.

“As a responsible government we are doing all we can to prepare as much as possible for the consequences of No Deal. The joint letter from our chief medical officer and chief pharmaceutical officer sets out clearly what preparations have been made to mitigate as best we can and provides our health and social care professionals with as much reassurance as possible.

“If the UK leaves the EU without a deal and some shortages occur, the NHS will manage the situation and, if necessary, provide advice on suitable alternatives or other treatment options while supply is restored.”