Blog: Stormont Live: MLAs briefed on health issues relating to Brexit – BBC News

The SDLP’s Colin McGrath asks the official to outline how many people are working on Brexit within her department.

Ms Harrison says there are seven people “at the moment”.

“The expertise that resides across the department will be drawn upon,” she says, adding “we will be working with our whole department in terms of policy areas”, adding that for “this accelerated period, a unit has been pulled together”.

“That’s a dedicated team that has come together for end-stage planning,” she adds.

“It doesn’t seem like very many, but okay, it’s there,” replies Mr McGrath.

He asks a supplementary question about “workforce considerations” and wants to know if there has been any work done to find out “how many people might have to leave, how many people can stay”.

Patricia Quinn-Duffy from the department answers the question.

“Unfortunately EU nationality isn’t part of the collection of data at the point of hiring, so we actually don’t know the number of EU citizens that work in health and social care as part of the trusts,” she says.

“The Department for the Economy has been doing some work on how many people were leaving, and it seems to have settled down since the referendum in 2016,” says Ms Quinn-Duffy.

She also talks about the EU settlement scheme which is open for citizens to apply.

“The EU settlement scheme is opened until June next year, so there is a six-month buffer on the settlement scheme,” says the official.

NI AssemblyCopyright: NI Assembly

Mr McGrath then asks about a no-deal scenario and wants to know “how much stock is available for critical medicines and how long would it take to sort of replenish those”.

Cathy Harrison says there is a “multi-layer approach” to the issue, adding considerable resources have gone into surveillance of medical supply chains.

“We do have a lot more stock in the UK at this moment in time than we would have had normally,” she says, adding “it varies depending on what we’re looking at”.

Mr McGrath asks the official to give an assurance that “nobody will be without their medicines come January, February time”.

“I can give an assurance that the work that is being done here is comprehensive in terms of medicinal supplies and there is no need for anyone to do anything different in terms of ordering their medicines or prescriptions at the moment in time,” says Ms Harrison.

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