Alliance Health Spokesperson, Paula Bradshaw MLA, has called on all parties to join her call for full publication of all documentation related to the impact of a “No Deal” Brexit on the health and livelihoods of people living and working in Northern Ireland.
Her call comes after the latest leak of Government documents concerning “Operation Yellowhammer”, the plans on dealing with a crash-out exit from the EU on 31 October.
Paula Bradshaw said: “No political party can justify keeping hidden from the public information which speaks of ‘likely life-threatening impacts’ on some patients if the UK were foolish enough to leave the EU without a clear deal in place.
“It is now clear beyond any doubt that a so-called “No Deal”, crash out of the EU with no agreement on future arrangements in place, would put access to crucial vaccines, medication and therapies at risk. The public must be told clearly what this will mean.
“In Northern Ireland, I have already established in discussions and correspondence with the relevant Departments and Trusts that there would be difficulty with retention and recruitment of vital health and social care staff and with access to equipment. The Yellowhammer documents further establish that even maintenance of existing equipment will become difficult as the engineers with the relevant expertise may live elsewhere in the EU.
“Furthermore, while I have received assurances that alternative routes to access medicines have been found in most cases, the Yellowhammer documents show that nearly 10% remain ‘problematic’. This will result in shortage of vaccinations, medication and therapies, including for cancer.
“While I have received assurances that community pharmacies will continue to operate as normal, they are struggling even now, which means that it is inevitable there will be further complications with dispensing even those drugs which do enter the country.
“No Government in its right mind would pursue a policy with ‘likely life-threatening impacts’, yet that is exactly what the UK Government, propped up by the DUP, is doing. This means the DUP was playing high risk games not just with people’s livelihoods but even with their lives, for no benefit whatsoever, even before it lost its role holding the balance of power last week.
“The last few days have also revealed that ‘No Deal’ crash-out is not the negotiating tactic the DUP was fooled into thinking it was, but the mainstream objective of the reckless faction now running the UK Cabinet Office. They are prepared to play with the lives and livelihoods of the people of Northern Ireland and across the UK just for the sake of their own power hungry political games.
“The callous attitude of the UK Government, and particularly of the DUP, towards the well-being of the people of Northern Ireland has now been laid bare for all to see. It is not too late, however, for the DUP to change course. The public must be entrusted with the full information.
“I would therefore challenge the DUP and all the parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly to come together and demand full publication of all the Yellowhammer documentation as it relates to healthcare and jobs, full publication of all the Northern Ireland Departments’ and Health Trusts’ planning documentation, and to commit to avoiding any sort of crash-out Brexit which risks lives and livelihoods.”