Health Secretary Matt Hancock ordered the National Health Service (NHS) to fulfill its scheduled blood drives in south-east England after it cancelled some events should the UK leave the EU without a deal.
Blood drives were cancelled in Dover and Folkestone in Kent for two weeks before and six weeks after Brexit in anticipation of an EU exit on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.
The public health service claimed Tuesday that the extra traffic as a result of customs checks at ports, with parts of the M20 turned into a contraflow, could delay the material getting to hospitals.
A department of health spokesman told The Times, “This proposal was not cleared through the department. We are stopping it right now. Blood donation sessions will continue as usual.”
Mike Stredder, the director of blood donation for the NHS Blood and Transplant service, said Tuesday that the proposed cancellations would affect only six blood donation sessions.
“Over the same period we will hold around 2,700 other sessions elsewhere in the country. We will also hold replacement sessions at alternative sessions to compensate,” Mr Stredder said, confirming, “There will be no effect on blood stocks or on our ability to supply hospitals.”
Pro-Brexit Tory Dover MP Charlie Elphicke criticised the plans as “ridiculous and irresponsible.”
“Both the ports of Dover and Calais have said they will keep traffic flowing. Why not see what happens first before creating worry completely unnecessarily?” Mr Elphicke added.
Brexit: Project Fear’s Best ‘No Deal’ Scare Stories of 2018 https://t.co/4iCuB4PUAK
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 26, 2018
However, the narrative that Brexit was threatening blood supplies quickly gained traction in the establishment media with headlines such as “Brexit Threatens to Drain Blood from Donation Efforts” from Bloomberg, “NHS Cancels Blood Donor Sessions in Kent over Brexit Fears” from ITV, and “NHS Halts All Blood Donations at Dover and Folkestone for Eight Weeks Due to Lorry Gridlock Fears” from the Evening Standard.
Anti-Brexit politicians also seized on the plans, with Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth describing it as a “disastrous consequence of Theresa May’s hopeless mishandling of Brexit.”
Brexit blood donation concerns are the latest in a series of Project Fear stories perpetuated by the continuity Remain campaign in seeking to undermine confidence in Brexit, with others claiming that in the event of a WTO exit, the UK could run out of clean water, cheese would become an “occasional luxury,” and airplanes would cease to fly over Irish airspace.