With a no-deal Brexit becoming an ever increasing possibility and winter fast approaching, it is understandable that many will be concerned about what the impact will be on health and patient care.

A new paper published by the BMA, ‘A health service on the brink: the dangers of a ‘no deal’ Brexit’ warns that patients could soon be hit with a ‘double whammy’ of the impact of a no-deal Brexit and what will likely be another winter crisis in the NHS as it struggles once again to cope with demand. Cancelled operations, missed cancer treatment targets and patients in corridors waiting for hours on end to be seen; recent winters have seen unprecedented scenes unfold in the hospitals, GP surgeries and across the NHS, with patients suffering and staff under increasing pressure as resources and capacity struggle to keep up with rocketing demand. Add to that chaos a ‘no deal’ Brexit, and the disintegration of local as well as national health services becomes an ever more real prospect.

From medicine shortages to the loss of highly skilled doctors, the Government’s preparations to deal with what could be a potentially catastrophic fallout have been far from reassuring.

The Government is being reckless with the health of patients and showing little regard for the future of EU healthcare staff working in the NHS. What guarantees can be made that radioisotopes - vital for cancer treatment and diagnosis - will continue to be imported into the UK without delay in the event of ‘no deal’? What actions will the Government take to ensure that economic benefits are not given priority over the nation’s health in a rush to secure trade agreements? We need answers to these crucial questions.

Dr George Rae

BMA North East regional council chair