NHS, medical research, industry, patients and public health organisations have come together to form a new alliance* that aims to protect the UK’s interests in these areas as it negotiates to separate itself from the European Union.
The Brexit Health Alliance - which will be co-chaired by Sir Hugh Taylor, the former permanent secretary of the Department of Health, and Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation - seeks to ensure that issues such as healthcare research, access to technologies and treatment of patients are given prominence and attention throughout the process.
The Alliance’s position is that it is in both Europe and the UK’s interests to maintain co-operation in research and in handling public health issues, and it also wants the government to secure a commitment to medical research, the provision of alternative funding, and the right for UK citizens to receive healthcare in EU countries.
These issues, says Dickson, “will have a profound impact on the future health and wellbeing of patients both here and in Europe”.
“Our aim will be to ensure a strong focus on health as Brexit approaches, and that we offer views from across the health sector to negotiators to ensure that patient care and the population’s health and wellbeing will be protected as we leave the EU,” added Sir Hugh.
Negotiations of the UK’s departure from the EU are due to start next week, but there remains much confusion over the UK’s position in the wake of the general election last week, in which the Conservatives failed to secure a majority government.
There remain significant and wide-ranging concerns over Brexit’s potential impact on the UK’s health and life sciences sectors.
Aside from the direct hit to NHS staff, as recently highlighted by a 96 percent drop in EU nursing applicants and estimates that more than 2,000 GPs could be lost if EU workers rights in the UK aren’t protected, the country stands to lose the European Medicines Agency, which some fear could result in delays to drug approvals and launches.
*Founding members of the Alliance are: the NHS Confederation; Welsh NHS Confederation; Northern Ireland Confederation; Association of UK University Hospitals; Academy of Medical Royal Colleges; NHS Providers; National Voices; Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry; Association of British Healthcare Industries; The Richmond Group of Charities; BioIndustry Association; Faculty of Public Health; Association of Medical Research Charities; and Scottish NHS Chief Executive Grou