Kent Community Health NHS trust is exploring the option of personnel staying overnight in its premises as part of its contingency planning for the UK’s departure from the EU on 29 March. It fears the disruption could last for up to six months with its staff, services and ability to deliver care badly hit if a no-deal exit leads to Kent being snarled up by traffic. It follows serious concern that the area around Dover could become gridlocked with lorries facing long delays as they wait to cross the Channel to France.
The trust is worried that it may also have to call in voluntary groups to help it care for and transport patients, and ask staff to work at the trust facility nearest their home rather than their usual place of work. It is also facing the possibility of having to rely on unspecified “alternative methods of communication” and “alternative methods of travel” if it proves difficult to get around Kent after 29 March.
“We are planning for all eventualities because we have a duty of care [to patients],” one trust official said.
The plans are set out in a paper discussed at a recent meeting of the board of the trust, which employs 5,000 staff and looks after a population of 1.4 million people. Its doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians and other health professionals care for patients in their own homes, nursing homes, community hospitals, health clinics, walk-in centres and mobile units.
The report to the board warns that: “The potential impact of Brexit on Kent’s roads could be significant. The police are planning for between three and six months of disruption to Kent roads. This has been the discussion of the Local Health Resilience Partnership over the last few months.”
The document says that work is ongoing to identify:
• Staff’s closest base;
• Alternative methods of travel and their feasibility for specific services;
• Alternative methods of communication;
• Staff accommodation at bases;
• Use of the voluntary sector;
• Core service response.
The M26 motorway, between Sevenoaks and West Malling, may have to be closed as a result of traffic problems caused by a no-deal Brexit, the paper reveals.
The NHS Confederation, which represents NHS trusts, said Kent’s location meant the trust had to plan for lorry chaos in the county interrupting its operations.
“Everyone worries about how delays and disruptions at British ports might affect delivery of healthcare, but they are usually thinking about the impact on receiving medicines and devices,” said Layla McCay, its director of international relations.
“NHS trusts located near these ports have extra worries. We can’t yet know the extent to which queuing lorries might cause travel disruptions for staff getting to work, or to see patients. NHS trusts in places like Kent are having to take these extra considerations on board in their contingency planning in case of a no-deal Brexit.”
Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said staff may have to sleep at their workplaces, as some did last year amid heavy snow in February and March.
“The NHS continually assesses the risks of many different scenarios, for example extreme winter weather, and has to have robust business continuity and emergency plans in place to ensure they can continue to provide services and care for patients.
“These plans will inevitably include how staff will travel to and from work and between sites and accommodation in the rare event that they may need to stay on site.”
Source: “brexit” – Google News