The NHS is stockpiling body bags to cope with no deal Brexit

The NHS is stockpiling bodybags to cope with a no deal Brexit shortage, ministers have admitted.

A letter from health minister Stephen Hammond to a fellow MP, giving assurances to one of his constituents, confirmed the macabre course of action, in a bid to offer reassurance that the NHS will continue to operate despite the disruption.

The letter lists a number of medical products, consumables and equipment being stockpiled to cope with Britain crashing out without a deal.

They include medicines, vaccines and blood products.

But in the letter, extracts of which were published on Twitter by ITV’s Robert Peston, Mr Hammond singles out body bags as an important consumable being protected by health service bosses.

It reads: “The Department is working with its partners across Government, in the health sector and in industry to prepare for any possible disruption in the supply chain.

“While this does not mean that we are expecting such disruption, the Government is preparing for all exit scenarios.

“These include sensible strategies for devices and consumables, including body bags, that come to the UK from or through the EU, such as precautionary stockpiling by suppliers, to ensure that the supply of essential products is not disrupted.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are taking comprehensive action to ensure the NHS has continued access to products needed to deliver safe, effective care.

“If everyone does what they should do, we are confident the supply of medicines and other medical supplies will be uninterrupted in the event of exiting the EU without a deal.”

37 million packs of medicines are imported to the UK from the EU every month, and the NHS is preparing for a doomsday scenario to prevent supplies running dry.

Government and NHS chiefs have set up a "war room" called the ‘Operational Response Centre’ and industry firms are creating six-week stockpiles of medicine.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has chartered a plane to fly in short-shelf-life products, like isotopes for cancer treatment, from Maastricht. Insulin could also be stockpiled.

Mr Hancock claimed he’s become the biggest buyer of fridges in the world, after fitting out facilities for storage of the crucial drugs.

NHS staff are being "directed" to urge patients not to stockpile medicines personally to avoid shortages throughout the system.

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