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NHS boss reveals ‘significant planning for all Brexit scenarios’

Simon Stevens said a no-deal scenario was not ‘a desirable situation’.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has revealed there is “significant planning” to ensure the health service is ready for a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Stevens said the NHS had been working with the Government to ensure the supply of medicines and equipment continues in “any Brexit scenario”.

The NHS boss told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show that a no-deal Brexit was not “a desirable situation” but welcomed the preparations.

Last October Mr Stevens told Parliament’s health select committee the service had not been asked by the Government to examine the potential impact of the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal in place.

Mr Stevens told the Andrew Marr Show: “There is immediate planning which the health department, with other parts of Government, are undertaking around securing medicine supply and equipment under different scenarios.

“That will obviously crystallise when it’s clear later this autumn what the UK’s position will be.”

He added: “Nobody’s in any doubt whatsoever that top of the list in terms of ensuring continued supplies for all the things that we need in this country right at the top of the list has got to be those medical supplies.”

Mr Stevens also said that every hospital in England had been asked to “reach out” to EU nationals working for the service.

He said: “Every hospital has now been written to asking them to reach out to their staff from the rest of the EU, providing that the Home Secretary has set a clear process by which people can apply to stay in this country which we hope they will do.”

Earlier Mr Stevens was asked whether the extra £20 billion of funding announced for the NHS last month was enough.

He said it was a “significant improvement”, adding: “It represents a real step change in the money that will be going into the National Health Service over the next five years, compared with the last five or ten.”

The head of public spending watchdog the National Audit Office said the cash announced for the NHS would only keep services at their current levels and called on politicians to think big.

Sir Amyas Morse told the Guardian: “The funding increases we have heard about are very much welcome but are just in healthcare.

“Nonetheless, nobody is pretending it is doing more than sustaining the current services.”

He added: “As we mark the 70th birthday, political leaders should be leading a debate about where we want this national asset to go and they should aim high.”

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