Preparing for a no-deal Brexit

Guidance for members on preparing for a no-deal Brexit

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This page will help you think about the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit for your practice.
It outlines the key points in the UK Government’s guidance on no-deal Brexit planning for providers of NHS services in England. That guidance is addressed to all providers, including optical practices. However, our understanding is that the Government doesn't expect all providers to act on the guidance at this stage.

Parts of the guidance will also be relevant to optical practices located in other parts of the UK, and to practices that don’t provide NHS services. 

This page also provides links to information published by the other governments in the UK about no-deal Brexit planning for health service providers.

For general information about Brexit and optical practices, see our common questions and answers about Brexit and optics.

Should I start preparing for a no-deal Brexit?

If you have a role in running an optical practice, you will need to start thinking about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit for your practice, and how to manage them.

The UK Government has stepped up its planning for a no-deal Brexit including guidance for healthcare providers in England on preparing for no-deal.

Given the high level of political uncertainty around the outcome of the Brexit process, we recommend that if you have a role in running a UK optical practice, you should: 

  • Read the summary on this page of the relevant key points in the UK Government guidance
  • Consider whether you need to read the full Government guidance, and/or take any follow-up action

The UK Government guidance – key points

The UK Government guidance says that providers must consider and plan for the risks that may arise due to a no-deal Brexit. 

In particular, the Government says that providers should take the following steps:

Medicines, medical devices and clinical consumables

1. Continue to follow the UK Government’s advice not to stockpile medicines, medical devices or clinical consumables beyond business as usual stock levels, because the Government is developing UK-wide contingency plans for continued supply
2. Advise your patients that they do not need to stockpile additional medicines at home


3. If you have health and care staff who are EU citizens, tell them about the EU Settlement Scheme (see I have staff who are UK citizens – what do I need to do? below)
4. If you think workforce problems may pose a risk to the delivery of your contracted services, notify your local commissioner and your regional NHS EU Exit Team as soon as possible

Data protection

5. If you operate in the EU or EEA as well as the UK, or if you transfer personal data between the UK and the EU/EEA: 
  • Consider whether disruption to such data transfers could affect patient care or could have other serious impacts 
  • Follow the guidance published by the Government and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on data protection in the context of a no-deal Brexit 
6.  Ensure your data is adequately protected by continuing to complete the annual Data Security and Protection Toolkit assessment, if you are required to do so.

I have staff who are EU citizens – what do I need to do?

The UK Government has established an EU Settlement Scheme. You can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme here

The UK Government has said that:

  • UK businesses with health and care staff who are citizens of another EU member state should tell them about the EU Settlement Scheme
  • The new Scheme will remain open until the end of 2020 in the event of a no-deal Brexit, so there will be plenty of time for EU citizens to register

What other governments in the UK have said about no-deal Brexit planning

Since healthcare is a devolved matter in the UK, each of the UK’s governments has a role in planning for the impact of a no-deal Brexit on healthcare services. This page provides some links to information from the devolved governments on Brexit planning. Members in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may want to contact their national optometry body (Optometry Scotland, Optometry Wales or Optometry Northern Ireland) if they have specific queries about the work of the relevant government.

The Scottish Government has published an update about medicine supplies and preparing for a no-deal Brexit, and general information on health on health and social care after Brexit.

The Welsh Government has published information for health professionals about the supply of medicines in a no-deal Brexit.

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has published guidance and correspondence about preparations for Brexit. 

Published: 10 January 2019
Last updated: 9 August 2019