RPS meets Dept of Health on Brexit contingency plans

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society on Thursday met with the Department of Health and Social Care to discuss potential implications of Brexit for patients, pharmacists and the wider NHS.

President Ash Soni, Chief Executive Paul Bennett, English Pharmacy Board Chair Sandra Gidley and RPS staff met officials from the Department’s Medicines and Pharmacy Directorate.

As well as asking for an update on contingency planning with medicines manufacturers and suppliers in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, topics raised by the RPS included the importance of reassuring the public on continued access to medicines, the potential for guidance for health professionals around managing possible medicines shortages, and the future implementation of the Falsified Medicines Directive.

Commenting following the meeting, Ash Soni, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said:

“We welcome the Government’s aim to secure a withdrawal agreement with the EU to ensure the continued supply of medicines in the UK.

“But with continued uncertainty about a ‘no deal’ Brexit, it was reassuring to hear about contingency planning underway within Government and the ongoing engagement with medicine manufacturers on this complex issue.

“We know that pharmacists are already routinely helping to manage medicines shortages and expressed our concerns about the impact of potential disruption to the supply chain.

“While we would echo the Government’s advice that people should not stockpile medicines, we also know pharmacists are often on the frontline when it comes to providing reassurance to patients who may have concerns.

“It is vital that the UK and EU work towards an agreement to ensure patients continue to have access to treatment and would urge all sides to make further progress in the coming weeks.

"In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, we would look to the Government and NHS to engage rapidly with the health professions about potential measures to support patient care, whether that is enabling pharmacists to substitute medicines or improving communication between clinicians about repeat prescriptions.”

Sandra Gidley, Chair of the English Pharmacy Board, said:

“This was a constructive meeting and we welcomed the Department’s willingness to maintain a dialogue around how the RPS can support its members during this next phase of Brexit and beyond.

“As we look ahead to March 2019, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society will continue engaging with the Department, other pharmacy organisations and wider stakeholders on what Brexit means for members and how pharmacists can be enabled to support patients.”