Wales’s health minister has outlined the steps that the country has taken to prepare for Brexit.
The Minister of Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething AM, issued a statement to the National Assembly of Wales, outlining Brexit preparations undertaken, and warning of the risks of a no-deal scenario:
“No amount of planning can guarantee a disruption-free Brexit. To suggest otherwise is deeply misleading and irresponsible.”
The actions undertaken by the Welsh Government include:
- participation in UK-wide arrangements to manage medicine and radioisotope shortages, and to establish dedicated express freight channels into airports
- significant expenditure on warehouse facilities to stock essential medical supplies, with £11 million spent on the storage of medical supplies and £5 million on stockpiles of clinical consumables such as bandages, gloves and needles
- pressuring for assurances upon the flow of goods through ports and securing settled status for EU citizens
However the Welsh Government is also presenting a robust challenge to the UK government in areas where it feels Welsh interests need to be protected, with the Minister commenting that:
“My position remains crystal clear: a ‘no-deal’ Brexit poses significant risks to services in Wales and the public that they serve.
We’ll continue to do all that we can to prevent the UK Government from leading us to a disastrous ‘no deal’ Brexit, which will inevitably hit Wales harder than other parts of the UK.”
The Minister voiced concern about the time and capacity that was being taken up by Brexit, particularly in the run up to winter:
“Our estimate is that there are the equivalent of between 50 and 100 full-time posts dedicated to ‘no deal’ readiness across health and care in Wales—enough to run a significant number of medium-sized general practices in Wales instead.
The last thing that we should do is introduce additional complexity and uncertainty for the public and our staff, especially as we head into winter.”
The Minister also voiced frustration about the impact on staffing in the Welsh NHS:
“It is a source of unbelievable frustration to me that the UK Government continues to promote restrictions on recruiting staff that would do undeniable harm to health and care services and, of course, to the vulnerable people who rely upon them.
We have not yet seen a significant departure of EU nationals from employment in health and social care here in Wales, but other parts of the UK have. We’re seeing a reduction in overseas recruitment, which will have a serious effect in the medium term if it continues. We may also see health and care staff moving to jobs in other sectors, some of which have already seen significant losses of EU nationals.”
For further information, you can view the full statement here.