LONDON (Reuters) - Crashing out of the European Union without a deal would cause major problems for Britain's health service and risk "chaotic disruption" to medicine supplies, according to a report on Tuesday.
The Nuffield Trust, an independent health charity, also warned that Brexit without a deal on future relations with the EU would lead to worsening staff shortages in the National Health Service (NHS).
And it could create particular problems for healthcare in Northern Ireland, where treatment programs for some rare and serious diseases are designed to work across the entire island of Ireland.
"A scenario where the UK leaves without any deal would cause extensive problems for the NHS. It would risk a chaotic disruption to supplies of medical products, and a rise in prices that would push hospitals deeper into deficit," the report stated.
"Many different parts of EU law and EU institutions play an important role in enabling care to be delivered to the standards we see today. Suddenly ending them with no replacement would do serious damage to an already strained British NHS."
The warning chimes with concerns from pharmaceutical companies, which are already drawing up plans to protect supply chains.
Stringent medicine regulations mean manufacturers face multiple Brexit uncertainties, such as the potential need to retest drugs shipped across borders and transfer product licences to different jurisdictions.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by Louise Heavens)