Brexit No Deal Q&A – What should people with diabetes do?
UPDATED 22 JANUARY 2019 – We updated this blog to reflect new information we’ve received from Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, and to update on the latest with regards to the letter we sent before Christmas to the Health Secretary.
If you’re living with or affected by diabetes, you’ll no doubt have been following closely reports in the news about the potential impact of a no deal Brexit on supplies of medicines, particularly insulin.
We wanted to use this blog to give you the most up-to-date information on what the Government are planning, and also to reassure you that we’re doing everything we can to get clarity and commitment from them as this situation develops.
What has the Government said?
The Government has said that the ports such as Dover and Folkestone would have greatly reduced capacity for at least six months if there is a no-deal Brexit because it would lead to new checks on goods that would slow traffic. This would affect the supply of medicines and technology that come through these ports.
Does the Government have a plan?
The Government has said that making sure people have access to the medicines they need will be a priority for the capacity that is available to import goods, and that it will use air freight as an alternative. They have said they will increase storage capacity before we leave the EU. The Government has been working hard with the pharmaceutical companies to make effective plans to avoid problems.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England said: “If everybody in that no-deal scenario does what they are supposed to do, the NHS will continue to see the goods and supplies flow. But we are critically dependent on the transport infrastructure: freight, channel tunnel and air. That is something outside the control of the NHS and will be the critical variable in whether we are able to continue operating normally.”
It is also planning urgent changes to the regulations on pharmacists that would allow the Government to introduce a ‘serious shortage protocol’. This would mean that if there was a shortage of particular types of medicines pharmacists could use their professional judgement to dispense medicines in smaller quantities or of different types to what has been prescribed.
We have stressed that the most important thing the Government can do is provide clarity about their plans to ensure the supplies of insulin and medicines are not interrupted.
What should people with diabetes do?
People should continue to get prescriptions and use their medicines in the normal way.
We know you want and need more clarification on what will happen in the event of a no deal Brexit, so we’re working hard to get this, and to make sure you get it as soon as we do.
We want this issue to be addressed so people do not have any reason to worry.
What is Diabetes UK doing?
Diabetes UK has been working to get more information from all relevant bodies on this issue, and we wanted to give you the full picture not only of what we know and what we’re doing, but also what we think it’s important for you to know, and for you to do.
We’re doing everything we can to get the clarity we know you need. We’ve written to all pharmaceutical companies producing medications for diabetes, and had assurance from all three insulin manufacturers that they were putting contingencies in place.
Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, two of the three main manufacturers of insulin have said they will have 16 weeks of stocks in the UK so that if there are problems at the border they have time to resolve them. They are also working on alternative routes into the country either by ferry or in the air.
We’ve also been making our views very clear with officials at the Department of Health. Before Christmas, we wrote to Health Secretary Matt Hancock asking for his guarantee that safeguards are in place to ensure continued access to insulin, in particular, and also that the Government publish a list of medicines which may have their supply affected in the event of a no deal Brexit. We are chasing for a direct reply.
What happens next?
We will continue to update you with the latest developments, and will make sure you’re made aware of any updates through emails and social media. However, we want you to be absolutely reassured that we are doing everything we can to get clarity for you.
If you would like to discuss any concerns you with has please call us on 0345 123 2399. Our lines are open 9am-6pm Monday to Friday. You can also get in touch with our contact form.