Health boards in Tayside and Fife are preparing for a post-Brexit surge in ex-pats seeking to register with GPs – and possible shortages of medicine, food and even laundry detergent.
Planning documents suggest the number of British nationals who return to the UK after the country’s departure from the EU could put strain on already stretched practices.
And health boards also say shortages of some medicines could occur six weeks after leaving the EU.
There are also fears there could be disruption in the supply of radiopharmaceuticals and radioisotopes, which “may impact on patient care”.
These are normally used to carry out tests but radioisotopes can also be used to treat some cancers
A Freedom of Information response issued by NHS Tayside also warns food shortages could limit hospital menus and an “inability to provide laundry detergents for high soiled items in the long term may lead to a reduced service”.
It also warns of a reduction in the available workforce while “there may be a number of UK residents who return to the UK seeking healthcare”.
NHS Tayside has established an EU Exit Readiness Group to plan for the leaving the EU.
Its work is based on the UK Government’s National Planning Assumptions, which have been modified by the Scottish Government where there are variances in Scottish policy.
A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said: “NHS Tayside has well developed EU Exit plans which have been evolving since 2018 in preparation for possible EU Exits in March 2019 and then October 2019.
“Planning continues and involves NHS Tayside staff, Health and Social Care Partnership staff and Resilience Planning Partners.
“The issue of possible increased pressure on GP services has been considered within the Impact and Risk Assessments developed by the three Health and Social Care Partnerships.
“Planning is being taken forward as part of their Business Continuity arrangements and GP practices also have processes in place for managing new patients. Although it is unknown, it is not anticipated to be a big risk as new patients would be likely to be spread across Tayside.”
NHS Fife is also preparing for Brexit.
Director of public health and chair of NHS Fife Brexit Assurance Group Dona Milne said: “NHS Fife has established a Brexit Assurance Group and is doing all it can to plan and mitigate against as many of the significant uncertainties that exist around leaving the EU.
“The group is working to ensure the board’s readiness in case of a no-deal scenario, based on Scottish Government planning assumptions.”