The UK (including Scotland) will leave the European Union on 31 January 2020.  There will be a transition period until the end of 2020 while the UK and EU negotiate additional arrangements.  This process is known as 'Brexit'.

Brexit may affect the way we live in Scotland and this could include changes to health and social care.

The Care Inspectorate is working with the Scottish Government and all other key stakeholders to prepare for these potential impacts, including producing up-to-date information on how Brexit may affect health and social care provision.

Not all information is available at this time. Regular updates will be made to this page as new information becomes available, so please check back regularly.

The Care Inspectorate expects all care services in Scotland to continue to deliver high-quality care that meets people's needs and respects their rights and choices, as laid out in Scotland's Health and Social Care Standards.

We recognise that this is a time of uncertainty and challenge. We will continue to support care services across Scotland to meet the needs of people who rely on them. We want everyone in Scotland to experience high-quality care and we are committed to supporting care services to achieve this.

Medicines, medical devices and clinical consumables

Brexit does not affect anyone’s rights to health and social care, including GP and hospital services. However, there may be extra pressure on these services if the Brexit transition period ends before an EU trade deal has been agreed (a 'no deal' situation).

In a 'no deal' situation there are likely to be new delays at the UK border, which may reduce normal levels of supplies of:

  • some medicines
  • medical devices (instruments and other equipment used in hospitals and other health and social care settings)
  • clinical consumables (disposable or short life goods used in hospitals and other health and social care settings).

The Scottish Government, together with Welsh Government and the Administration in Northern Ireland, has been working with the UK Government to seek to maintain supplies as close to normal as possible.

Drug companies have stockpiled medicines in the UK that are normally transported here from other EU countries and the NHS has stockpiled other medical supplies. These stockpiles provide an extra six weeks of supply compared to normal levels. In addition, in the event of a 'no deal', medical supplies will be given priority for entry into the UK.

Shortages do sometimes happen in the NHS and there are systems in place to inform GPs and pharmacists about any issues. Advice is also given to GPs and pharmacists about alternative products that can be prescribed to replace any of these products where supply is short. This means that:

  • clinicians should not write longer NHS prescriptions than normal
  • people should not stockpile medicines at home: this can be unsafe anyway and could cause disruptions to supply.

For more information, please read the Scottish Government's update on medicine supplies. This includes contingency plans being developed by NHS National Services Scotland and the Scottish Government for continued supply of medical devices and clinical consumables, including to the social care sector, in the event of disruption.

The health and social care workforce

EU nationals play a valuable role in providing health and social care services in Scotland. They have always been, and will continue to be, very welcome in Scotland. EU citizens currently living in Scotland will continue to be able to access health and social care.

EU citizens should be able to continue working as they do now but will need to apply for settled status before 30 June 2021. To be eligible to apply to the Settlement Scheme, EU citizens will need to show they are resident in the UK by December 2020.

The Scottish Government’s EU citizens living in Scotland page gives the latest information on this, including details on how to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.

In relation to professional registration, in a ‘no deal’ scenario non-UK EU staff will not need to do anything and will remain on the register for as long as they continue to meet all the normal requirements of continued registration.

Citizens Advice Scotland is also delivering a support and advice service for all citizens resident in Scotland with more complex needs or particular challenges who are affected by the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme. Part of the service is a full-time national helpline available on 0800 916 9847. More information is available on the Citizens Advice Scotland website.

The site also contains information about Brexit in:

  • Español (Spanish)
  • Français (French)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • Polski (Polish)


If providers have any particular concerns about how Brexit may impact their ability to deliver care, we advise they contact their relevant local authority/health and social care partnership.

More information

More details on health and social care after Brexit will be added to this page as new information is available.

Meanwhile, there are several other sites that you can check for more information and updates:

  • Preparing for withdrawal from the European Union - Audit Scotland paper focusing on how the Scottish public sector has been preparing for EU withdrawal. It highlights ongoing issues, potential risks and features some examples of activity that public bodies have undertaken to date.
  • EU Exit Briefing for Scottish Care Members – This briefing serves as a guidance for social care providers to prepare for any adverse impacts that could result from Brexit. This document details simple steps that social care providers can take to ensure that necessary preparation is undertaken to meet their obligations and responsibilities.
  • – Information from the Scottish Government on Brexit and how it may affect people and businesses in Scotland.
  • Brexit Vulnerability Index Map – Find out how communities across Scotland may be affected by Brexit with this interactive map produced by Scottish Government. This map can be used to help local authorities and other organisations prepare for Brexit. 
  • – The website is a resource for all businesses in Scotland to continue to actively prepare for a no-deal Brexit.