A NO-DEAL Brexit could leave York facing a shortage of medicines - a potential "final nail in the coffin" for the NHS, doctors are warning.

Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29, however growing uncertainty over the terms of that departure are already having an impact on medical drug supply chains in York.

Dr Andrew Field, of York Medical Group, said the practice had seen a reduction in availability of some of the regular medicines prescribed to patients.

He said: “With a no-deal Brexit, our supply chains will be severely disrupted.

“A vast proportion of our medicines are produced oversees, from countries inside the European Union, and over the years we have built up the supply chains that the NHS are reliant on so patients can receive regular prescriptions.

“Uncertainty over a no-deal Brexit leads to pharmaceutical companies holding back certain prescriptions and stockpiling themselves. This could be the final nail in the coffin for the NHS.

“We have already begun to see this as we are having to find alternative medicines for our patients.

“Doctors are spending their time at work sourcing new medicines and writing new prescriptions when we should be seeing patients. This has an added consequence for pharmacies who are under pressure to try and source new medicine suppliers.

“This all adds up to further delay.”

Dr David Fair, a GP at the Jorvik Gillygate Practice, said that there is already a shortage in York of the medicine Naproxen, used to alleviate pain and swelling, and Furosemide, which is used to reduce blood pressure.

He said: “We are currently having to administer patients with alternative medicines.

“Pharmacists are tearing their hair out trying to find, contact and then order in alternatives.

“It feels like the effects of leaving these supply chains have already started, and in the short-term it will only get worse.

“Contingency plans also involve delegating medicine supplies to the hospital most in need.

“This is decided via a deprivation index in which York, historically, is not a priority.”

Dr Field added that despite York being low on the deprivation index, the city has several health problems including high levels of alcoholism, respiratory problems and wealth inequality, all of which could be affected further.

Paul Brett, a pharmacist at York Monkbar Pharmacy, said that while some drugs have a variety of suppliers, several drugs such as insulin only have one, which could lead to shortages if supply chains suffer.

He said: “Specific drugs like insulin, which is a common prescription for residents in York and throughout the UK, has two manufacturers based in Sweden and France. If the supply chains are cut off from a no-deal Brexit and, as the Government say, if we only have enough supplies for six weeks, if a solution isn’t found we could see shortages of it and other specific drugs.”

However,  JDRF said they were committed to ensuring that the needs of people with type 1 diabetes are taken into account and prioritised in the event of a no deal Brexit and is working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care on the situation for insulin supplies.

In a statement they said: " Novo Nordisk has announced it will be increasing supplies to 18 weeks and joining other companies in testing different shipping routes in the event of delays at the UK’s main port, Dover."

The Department of Health and Social Care said it was working to ensure patients across the UK continue to receive their medicine.

A spokesman said: “We are working closely with pharmaceutical companies to ensure patients can continue to receive the medicines they need, including asking many of them to ensure a minimum of six weeks’ additional supply of medicine over and above usual buffer stocks by March 29.

“Patients, doctors and community pharmacists should not stockpile medicines — we are confident that, if everyone does what they should do, the supply of medicines will be uninterrupted in the event of a no-deal.”

Aaron Brown, chairman for York and Selby division, YOR Local Medical Committee, which represents GPs, urged patients not to panic or stockpile as this could create other problems for the health service.