RCSEd Joins 16 Other Health Organisations to Warn of Danger to Patient Safety from a No-Deal Brexit

« View all News items
22 Aug 2019

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) has joined 16 other Royal Colleges and medical organisations in writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to warn of the danger to the NHS from a no-deal Brexit. The letter urges the UK Government to consider the implications for patient safety during its decision making and negotiations with the EU.

President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Professor Mike Griffin, said: “We are pleased to join the RCPL and 15 other organisations today to write to the Prime Minister regarding our concerns about the role of healthcare in Brexit negotiations and the country’s preparedness for Brexit. We have many genuine concerns regarding shortages of medical supplies and border delays which could impact upon patient care and we urge the Prime Minister to place healthcare at the heart of negotiations.”

Here is the letter in full:


Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to ask you to put patient safety and protecting the nation’s health at the heart of Brexit negotiations by inviting the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to join the ‘EU exit strategy’ committee.

The implications of a no-deal exit from the EU for the NHS and wider health and care system must be considered at the highest levels of your government’s decision making. The NHS is at the heart of a healthy society: it employs over 1.2 million people, and every year it dispenses more than one billion prescriptions, serves over 170 million meals, handles 4.7 million surgical admissions and provides over 400 million face-to-face appointments. If not properly planned for, even the smallest of problems could have huge consequences for the lives and wellbeing of millions of people and our economy.

The public rightly expects candour from us, and we are simply unable to reassure patients that their health and care won’t be negatively impacted by the UK’s exit from the EU. For example, despite welcome ongoing engagement with DHSC, we still have significant concerns about shortages of medical supplies. Delays at our borders could exacerbate current supply issues and create the very real possibility that life-saving medication and devices are delayed from making it into the UK.

The need for preparedness is compounded by the fact that we are scheduled to leave the EU, potentially on a no-deal basis, just as flu and the winter season begins. Even a ‘moderate’ flu season places significant additional pressure on the NHS. Your EU exit strategy must include provision for different flu scenarios, and the Secretary of State is well placed to coordinate that.

We trust you understand our call for urgency in this matter and look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Professor Andrew Goddard, President of the Royal College of Physicians
Dr Taj Hassan, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs
Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Professor Jo Martin, President of the Royal College of Pathologists
Dr Nicola H Strickland, President of the Royal College of Radiologists
Professor Derek Alderson, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Professor Mike Griffin, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Professor Jackie Taylor, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives
Professor Ravi Mahajan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists
Sandra Gidley, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Professor Carrie MacEwen, President of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
Bronagh Scott, Director of Nursing, Policy and Practice at the Royal College of Nursing
Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association
Paul Bristow, Acting CEO of Kidney Care UK
Professor Michael Escudier, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England


back to top of page