PLANS to protect Scottish medical supplies from the "disruption" of Brexit have been put in place ahead of the end of the transition period.

The Scottish Government said "intensified preparations" will protect patients and supplies in the face of challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, winter weather and Brexit.

A national stockpile of around 60 critical care (ICU) and supportive care, or end of life, medicines is being built, and additional freight capacity has been contracted to ensure critical goods can reach the UK mainland without interruption.

The supply of medical devices and clinical consumables is being managed by National Services Scotland, which has been building up stock at the National Distribution Centre.

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Pharmaceutical companies have also been building up stocks of medicines to mitigate for potential disruption at ports.

The clinically-led Scottish Medicine Shortages Response Group will also draw up mitigation recommendations for the NHS when needed.

As well as utilising the Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGORR) arrangements, Police Scotland will also begin a phased activation of the National Coordination Centre and a single, Scotland-wide Multi Agency Coordination Centre (MACC).

SNP Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said: “It defies belief that with just over three weeks to go before the end of the Brexit transition, and in the middle of a pandemic, we still do not know what trading relationship we will have with the European Union.

“The utterly irresponsible refusal by the UK Government to extend the transition period means that our exit from the EU could not come at a more challenging time.

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“The challenges of dealing with the end of transition, the impacts of Covid-19 and our normal winter preparedness work means that our public services will be stretched in a way that has never been experienced before.

“That is why the Scottish Government is putting in place our Brexit response structures based on our existing and well established resilience arrangements.

“Scotland did not vote for any of this. The imposition by the UK Government of the damage of Brexit during the distress of a global pandemic beggars belief.

“We must now do our best to help our fellow citizens through it, but we must also redouble our efforts to give the people of Scotland the choice to leave such chaos behind.”