It is difficult sometimes to think of things that Brexit has not made worse. It is not that the decision to leave the EU is the be-all and end-all of everything that is wrong with this country. It is just that it is an extra level of red tape, delay, pain, expense and economic damage that no one else in the world has to deal with.
Now we are told that Brexit is making it harder for the NHS to get hold of the drugs it needs. According to Community Pharmacy England, medicine shortages are “as bad as they have ever been” and the blame lies at the feet of the war in Ukraine, the pandemic and, yes you guessed it, Brexit. Brexit is just that extra spanner in the works, as if we didn’t have enough problems.
The British Generic Manufacturers Association has announced that the number of “high-impact” shortages is at its highest level in 10 years. With 102 different forms of medication now in short supply, that rate has doubled in 18 months.
And if you are wondering why the NHS, pharmacists and doctors cannot just stockpile drugs so that issues at the border do not interrupt supplies, it is because drugs have a use by date. Troubles with supply are always going to hit the medical profession, because the whole system is based on there being a reliable, uninterrupted and regular distribution network.
Brexit, as we have learnt in nearly every other sector of the economy, makes the supply system less reliable, less regular and interrupts it all the time.
As Jas Heer, a committee member of Community Pharmacy England, explains: “I’ve been in pharmacy for over 30 years. In the last 12 to 18 months, I’ve never seen it this bad. There is something broken with the supply chain.”
Among the drugs in short supply are those for HRT, ADHD and perhaps most worryingly, antibiotics, possibly the most important group of drugs ever discovered.
If you hear the government deny that there is a problem, or if it does concede that there is a problem but claims that Brexit is not to blame, you might want to point the following out to them.
As part of the preparation for a no deal Brexit (the one that was the best for Britain, according to the swivel eyed loons) the government introduced SSPs.
These are Special Shortage Protocols. They were set up in 2019 and allow pharmacists to offer alternative products to replace those in short supply, because of Brexit. Over the last four years, the Department of Health and Social Care has issued 55 SSPs.
Now why would you have to do that if there was not a problem with the supply of drugs in this country? In fact, why would you have even invented the SSPs if you did not know that Brexit was going to cause problems?
Remember this is exactly the same government that still tells us Brexit is a success. I wonder what they are on?