QUESTIONS have been raised about whether Wokingham’s healthcare services are properly prepared for Brexit.

Councillors heard there is a “low-risk” regarding the potential impact on social care services in the borough when the UK leaves the EU.

This comes after health chiefs told members of Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC) health committee that more than two thirds of social care workers from the EU have citizenship status or have settled status, that risk assessments have been completed and that the Royal Berkshire Hospital has seen a net gain in its number of nurses “for the first time in years”.

But Labour councillor Andy Croy said the “low-risk” assessment regarding recruitment and retention of staff was “optimistic”.

He said: “It is not going to take much to tip over the edge, yet we still think the risk is low.

“I don’t think that’s a fair, realistic assessment.”

Rhosyn Harris, representative for WBC’s public health department, claimed the risk assessment took the national picture into account, but had said: “One of the barriers to recruitment and retention in adult social care is that the south-east is an expensive place to live and work. That is an issue the recruitment and retention plan needs to be looking at.”

Cllr Croy asked if Wokingham Borough, in particular, had been taken into account when planning the risk assessment, and Ms Harris said it had been discussed by a corporate group but if further concerns were raised then Public Health could look closer at Wokingham’s circumstances.

Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been working to prepare for a no-deal Brexit and completed their risk assessment by the end of January.

A no-deal Brexit exercise was also carried out by the CCG at the end of February, and the authority has prepared business continuity plans, along with its providers, for when the UK leaves the EU.

Advice has been given to GPs in the run-up to the UK’s departure, with doctors told not to prescribe extra medicines or authorise repeat prescription requests as this could increase medicine shortages elsewhere.

Patients are being assured there are plans for the continuity of supplies too.

However, some plans detailed with authorities have not been released to the public yet, as Berkshire West CCG Chief Finance Officer Rebecca Clegg told WBC councillors on Wednesday, March 6.