Brexit already impacting on medicine supply in Northamptonshire

Corby GP Dr Joanne Watt says Brexit is already having an impact on medicine supply in Northamptonshire and across the country.
Corby GP Dr Joanne Watt says Brexit is already having an impact on medicine supply in Northamptonshire and across the country.

Brexit is already having an impact on medicine availability in Northamptonshire and is causing problems for the unwell and medical practitioners, according to a leading Corby GP.

Dr Joanne Watt, who is a senior partner at Great Oakley Medical Centre in Corby, says that certain drugs are already becoming in short supply and prescriptions are regularly being returned to doctors to prescribe alternative medicines as pharmacists’ stocks are running out.

She said on a daily basis she is having to re-write prescriptions, which is causing huge inconvenience and is ultimately leading to suffering for unwell patients.

The doctor, who is chairman of the Corby Clinical Commissioning Group, said supplies of certain popular drugs such as anti-inflammatory drug naproxen and blood pressure drug nifedipine were running low as a direct result of Britain’s proposed departure from the European Union.

Dr Watt said: “The Brexit effect is being felt and the supply of medicines is already an issue in primary care.

“It is causing people concern and is causing patients and pharmacists immense inconvenience.

“Patients are suffering and pharmacists are working hard with GPs to provide alternative drugs.”

With naproxen she said that 500mg tablets had run out so GPs had then prescribed two 250mg tablets.

As prescriptions last six months some patients are going to doctors for doses of medicine that are no longer available. The prescription then has to go back to the doctor to be re-signed as pharmacists do not have the authority to amend a prescription.

Dr Watt said the impact has now been felt for the past two to three months and she is aware from national GP forums that it is a problem across the country. Informal doctor networks are keeping each other up to date on which medicines may run into supply problems.

She said: “At the moment there is not a solution but we are hoping that more drugs will become available.”

The low supply could also have an impact on CCG budgets as prescriptions are funded at a local level.

As certain drugs become unavailable doctors may have to prescribe alternative more costly medicines.

Currently the Corby CCG spends £11.1m on prescriptions, which is about ten per cent of its annual £108m budget.

The new chief executive for both Corby and Nene CCGs Toby Sanders will be going to London on Thursday for national health discussions about Brexit.

The Government says that the NHS is stockpiling medicines in the event of a no deal Brexit which could cause issues with drugs coming into the country.