Aug 21, 2018 - World

"No deal" Brexit threatens nationwide medical shortages

European Health Insurance Card

European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) as millions of Britons could lose their rights to urgent medical treatment while travelling in the EU after Brexit. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Images via Getty Images

In the event that the United Kingdom and the European Union fail to reach a deal on Brexit, poor government planning could result in hospitals facing shortages in medicine and medical devices, the trade association for the National Health Service warned in an email obtained by The Times.

The big picture: The increasingly likely scenario that the U.K. and the EU won't come to an agreement on their customs and trade relationship — among the last, but most contentious issues left to hammer out — could threaten “the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals." According to The Guardian, NHS provides more than 1 billion items through community pharmacies each year, many of which come from outside the country. The U.K. has some domestic manufacturing capacity, but not nearly enough to meet the population's full medical demands.

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