No-deal Brexit could see NHS Lothian cut back on 'non-essential' health services

Health chiefs have drawn up plans to cut back on dozens of services in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Pic; Guschenkova/Shutterstock
Health chiefs have drawn up plans to cut back on dozens of services in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Pic; Guschenkova/Shutterstock
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HEALTH chiefs would consider cutting back swathes of “non-essential” services in the event of no-deal Brexit, it has emerged.

NHS Lothian has drawn up plans to downgrade dozens of services including routine dental treatment and eye examinations.

A patient getting an eye test. Pic: Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock.

A patient getting an eye test. Pic: Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock.

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Details of the plan were revealed in a Freedom of Information response to STV News.

Under the proposals, services have been divided into those which “must be preserved” and those which “would be deferred first”.

The health board stressed these are contingency plans only and that any large organisation needs to conduct “planning that’s fit for all eventualities”.

If the plans were implemented, services which could lose out include routine cervical screening, post-natal examination, minor surgery, insurance and employment medicals, smoking cessation services, alcohol interventions and long-acting contraceptive treatments.

The health board would prioritise “vital” services such as GP practices, community nursing, treatment for acute or severe injuries, acute or chronic illnesses, palliative care, child vaccinations and mental health services.

Explaining the contingency planning, Professor Alison McCallum, director of public health at NHS Lothian, said: “It is important to understand that resilience planning in any large organisation always involves planning that’s fit for all eventualities.

“Having contingency plans does not necessarily reflect an expectation that we would need to implement all or even part of them.

“However, it is important to understand how we would prioritise our services and resources if we needed to and be prepared to take mitigating action should that be required.”

NHS Lothian’s “strategic Brexit management group” has been meeting frequently to discuss contingency planning, as have public authorities across Scotland and the UK