CORONAVIRUS has helped Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) identify supply chain issues of essential medicines and equipment.

This knowledge could be helpful when the UK leaves the European Union (EU) at the end of the year.

At their meeting on Wednesday, July 29, board members were given an update on PTHB’s Brexit preparedness by director of public health, Stuart Bourne.

Mr Bourne said: “It’s a temperature check of where things are ahead of December 31.”

He said that the last update to the board had been at the end of 2019, before the UK entered the withdrawal agreement period earlier this year on January 31.

Mr Bourne, said that the issues being looked at was securing the supply of medicines essential equipment so that they have enough stock.

Mr Bourne added: “We did quite a lot of work in 2019 going through those lists and making sure we had the stocks of items should they be needed.

“That work will be refreshed and reviewed again.

“I think responding to Covid has helped in terms of us understanding how to maintain robust supply chains.

“There is no doubt that that planning for a live response to a pandemic as well as the end of the withdrawal period from the EU does put a layer of complexity to arrangements.

PTHB director of workforce, organisational development and facilities, Julie Rowles, said, “Just to remind the board we have maintained our central stores on the Bronllys and Newtown sites in relation to ensuring our preparedness for Covid.

“If anything we are probably better prepared that we ever have been and it needs to continue for the next 12 months.”

Ms Rowles added: “I also want to reassure our workforce, we have identified those staff that might need our support.

“We will provide that support and enable anyone who needs settled status to get it.”

Mr Bourne added that a briefing paper by the Welsh Government in July had assessed the situation and were “pessimistic” about the current trade negotiations taking place between the UK and EU.

He said that the briefing paper authors believed that leaving with no deal and being on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms in the new year was the most likely scenario.

Board chairman, Professor Vivienne Harpwood, said: “Probably the most challenging scenario to most people would be a spike in Covid and a hard EU exit at the same time.”

She believed this would be “very difficult for everybody.”

Independent member, Owen James said: “It’s important that we try our best to prepare for this, regardless of your views.”

Brexit has now been put back on the PTHB corporate risk register.

Further updates will be given to the board later this year.