The UK is stockpiling "trauma packs" over concerns that border delays caused by a no-deal Brexit could endanger lives, according to The Guardian, which says the move highlights "the dependence of the UK on frictionless movement of goods across the border."
Made by Johnson & Johnson and flown in during terrorist attacks, the kits are typically not stocked by hospitals due to expiration dates on included medications.
Further opining on the "dangers posed by Brexit," the head of England's National Health Service said: "What we are doing is reviewing the tens of thousands of individual medicines, medical devices and other products that the health service uses, making sure that the manufacturers of those products have got extra buffer stockpiles," adding "We do obviously have a reliance on the way the transport infrastructure works in order to continue uninterrupted supply."
It's "in nobody's interest" in western Europe to disrupt the flow of medical equipment, Stevens added. "Getting those transport logistics right is absolutely crucial for the continuous flow of medical supplies, that is a statement of the obvious."
At the time of the 2017 bombing of the Manchester arena, in which 23 people died, the high number of casualties of both adults and children required Johnson & Johnson to swiftly fly in 500 additional packs from Belgium containing plates, wires, cables, nails and screws for the stabilising of joints.
“This is routine and the rapid deployment of trauma packs to the UK by the European Distribution Centre meant patient safety was never compromised,” a spokesman for Johnson & Johnson said. -The Guardian
Johnson & Johnson admitted that while there are "factors outside our control," the company had been "preparing for no deal for well over a year" based on the risks to medical supplies.
"Our priority throughout has been to patients, consumers, healthcare providers and our employees," said their spokesman, adding "We are doing everything we can to prepare for all potential Brexit scenarios – including increasing our level of stockholding, increasing warehouse capacity, reviewing and where necessary changing transport/distribution routes."
Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder says that the whole thing is "terrifying," and that a no-deal Brexit should be formally ruled out.
"Vital trauma packs can be sent to hospitals from the EU within hours. Customs checks will delay the packs getting to patients in emergency situations – it’s terrifying. The prime minister must take no deal off the table now," she insisted.
According to 2017 findings by the cross-party home affairs select committee of MPs, post-Brexit customs inspections could result in five-hour border delays - which may prove "critical in life and death situations where critically injured patients need care and treatment as soon as possible."
"Accident and emergency trauma packs (which are full of equipment and medicines) are flown in from the EU to the UK within hours from the order being placed to the operating room (OR) in a hospital," reads the committee's report.
"This short time frame is particularly necessary during unexpected large-scale emergencies, such as terrorist attacks, when a large number of people are suddenly seriously injured."
Of course, if a no-deal Brexit happens and it isn't chaos at the borders, there's going to be a lot of expired medication floating around.