The Government and other bodies such as the Care Providers Alliance are urging health and social care providers to ensure they have done everything they can to prepare for a potential No Deal Brexit on 31 October.
The National Audit Office published a report at the end of September noting that whilst the Department of Health and Social Care had undertaken a lot of work since June 2016 to prepare the sector for leaving the EU, there was still a lot of work to be done before 31 October in respect of the social care sector. For example the report notes that whilst the NHS has taken steps to stockpile medication for immediate use across the healthcare sector, care homes often rely upon non NHS suppliers for supplies of items such as rubber gloves. The Department did not originally advise the social care sector to stockpile such items, but rather advised that care providers should be simply “ready to deal with any disruption”.
In addition, the report by the National Audit Office notes it is hard to tell how prepared the social care sector is for Brexit, due to the fact that social care in England and Wales is provided in a fragmented manner by numerous small providers at a local level. Guidance has been issued however via bodies such as the Care Providers Alliance and via roadshows for NHS bodies and social care commissioners.
It is unclear how the social care sector will cope with the exit from the EU especially in the event of a No Deal Brexit. The warnings given in the leaked documents from Operation Yellowhammer in August gave dire warnings of a fragile system being tipped over the edge by lack of staffing and increasing supply costs. And it remains to be seen how this situation will affect claims against social care sector providers. Claims in our experience are often due to lack of staffing or other resources, and so it would seem that these issues are likely to be exacerbated post Brexit.
Further information on the National Audit office report can be found here: https://www.nao.org.uk/report/exiting-the-eu-supplying-the-health-and-social-care-sectors/#
Jennifer Johnston, Associate, BLM