A coalition from the UK’s health sector say Brexit negotiators have a responsibility to protect 500 million patients on both sides of the Channel. The group is calling on both sides to make patients and public health central to the Political Declaration for the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
The current draft Political Declaration includes references to ‘cooperation on matters of ‘health security’. However, it does not make it clear how it will guarantee that patients are protected as they are today on issues including medicines safety, public health disasters and infectious disease control.
The coalition say that current systems which align the UK and the EU in the interest of patient safety are in jeopardy, including:
- Preventing fake or fraudulent medicines from entering the legal supply chain
- Sharing data and ‘signals’ between EU countries that flag potential problems with medicines
- Preventing and controlling infectious diseases across Europe, as billions of people travel between ports and airports
- Ensuring the safety and supply of almost 1 billion packets of medicines between the UK and Europe every year
So that patients can continue to benefit from this cooperation, the organizations are calling for the following to be included in the text of the final Political Declaration on the future UK-EU relationship:
- To make specific reference to the importance of cooperating on the regulation of medicines.
- To make clear that the UK and EU will cooperate on protecting citizens from infectious disease and counterfeit medicines.
- To make clear that the UK and EU will agree closer collaboration on science and innovation
ABPI Chief Executive Mike Thompson said:
Brexit negotiators have an opportunity to take decisions today which will protect patients in the future.
While there are positives in the political declaration, the detail is missing. We are asking Government to give explicit commitments on issues of public health and medicines safety which we think is the minimum that patients across Europe should expect.”
BIA CEO, Steve Bates, said:
The draft Political Declaration has missed an opportunity to prioritize patients across Europe and the UK. It is vital that patients are included in the next Political Declaration and are a priority for discussions to ensure public health and patient safety are not negatively affected by Brexit – both day 1 post-Brexit and in the future.”
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organizations across the healthcare sector, said:
We understand that there is still much detail to be worked out on the future relationship between the UK and the EU, and we are pleased that the withdrawal agreement preserves key safeguards for patients during the implementation period.
But we need assurances from the UK and the EU authorities that they will put patients first as they negotiate details of the long-term relationship.
That means putting some specific but non-controversial commitments in the political declaration which make clear that surveillance systems which protect patients will be retained, that we will continue to collaborate on public health to control epidemics and manage infectious diseases, and that we align the regulation of medicines and medical devices.
These ambitions were reflected in the UK Government’s White Paper on the UK-EU future relationship and are consistent with the commitment made in the draft political declaration to maintain co-operation on health security, but they need to be spelt out.”