A set of documents relating to the government’s ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ preparations for a no-deal Brexit warn that imports of medical products are particularly at risk of ‘severe disruption’.
MPs forced the government to release a number of pages from the Yellowhammer report on the ‘reasonable worst case planning assumptions’, which warns of a negative impact on the supply of medical items if the UK leaves the EU without a formal deal on 31 October.
According to the document, dated 2 August, on the first day of leaving the EU without a deal (D1ND) between 50% and 85% of HGVs travelling via the short Channel Straits may not be ready for French customs.
It said: “The lack of trader readiness combined with limited space in French ports to hold ‘unready’ HGVs could reduce the flow rate to 40%-60% of current levels within one day as unready HGVs will fill the ports and block flow.”
Paragraph six of the document warns that if the decreased traffic flow goes unmitigated, it will “have an impact on the supply of medicines and medical supplies”.
It warns: “The reliance of medicines and medical products’ supply chains on the short straits crossing make them particularly vulnerable to sever extended delays; three-quarters of medicines come via the short straits.
“Supply chains are also highly regulated and require transportation that meets strict Good Distribution Practices. This can include limits on time of transit, or mean product must be transported under temperature controlled conditions.”
The report said that the government is developing a “multi-layered approach” to mitigate the risks.
The document also warns of potential damage to the adult social care sector and confirms that an already “fragile” social care market could face an immediate rise in costs in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
In an overall summary for UK plc, the report concluded: “Business readiness will not be uniform – in general larger businesses across sectors are more likely to have better developed contingency plans than small and medium sized businesses. Business readiness will be compounded by seasonal effects, impacting on factors such as warehouse availability.”
Since the Yellowhammer document was released, a number of MPs have called for Parliament to be recalled urgently.