Kent

Brexit: NHS books hotels for staff and extra ambulances in case of no-deal

Secamb vehicles
Image caption Extra ambulance staff and vehicles from across the country are on standby to come to Kent

Hotel rooms are being booked for NHS staff in case they have difficulty getting to work in the event of traffic jams after a no-deal Brexit.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said staff rotas after 31 October were being reviewed to ensure enough key workers were on duty.

The trust's two main sites are both close to ports at Folkestone and Dover.

Extra ambulance staff and vehicles from across the country are also set to help the South East Coast Ambulance Trust.

It follows warnings of significant disruption in a no-deal scenario, because lorries travelling between the UK and the EU would need to complete customs declarations which could lead to tailbacks on Kent's roads.

In a statement, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said: "Like the rest of the NHS, East Kent Hospitals is putting preparations in place to ensure essential services for patients would continue to be available if local traffic routes were disrupted, in the same way it prepares for other potential disruptions, from heavy snowfall to flooding.

"We have booked a small number of hotel rooms close to our emergency hospitals as a precautionary measure, for an initial two-week period."

It did not specify an exact number.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Tailbacks on Kent's roads could cause chaos in the wake of a no-deal Brexit

Meanwhile, Kent County Council (KCC) has published an update to its Brexit Preparedness document in which it says the worst disruption following the UK's exit from the EU could last three months.

It also expresses concern that extra customs checks should take place outside Kent to "minimise disruption on the Kent road network and avoid the risk of freight in transit arriving at Kent ports without suitable customs paperwork".

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The government is considering locating customs stations at the Ashford Truckstop and Ebbsfleet International railway station's car park D.

KCC has urged the government to finalise customs procedures and border control practices, but said it would continue to work closely with it "to focus national and local actions on the final arrangements that need to be put in place for a no-deal scenario".

The document was published as Paul Carter announced he would stand down as the Conservative leader of KCC next month after 14 years.

In a statement, he said he would leave his post on 17 October, and it was time to pass on the challenge to someone else.

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