Brexit ‘one of the greatest strategic issues facing the health sector across the UK.’
Brexit is one of the greatest strategic issues facing the health sector across the UK, say the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in their newly published report on Brexit.
The report, ‘Securing a healthy Brexit deal’ is published today (23 May 2018) and can be viewed here.
Concerns remain about the progress made to date in addressing the challenges and opportunities that the decision to leave the EU will have on patients and staff within the NHS.
The College believes that a successful Brexit process would deliver the following outcomes for patients, clinicians and the wider NHS:
- The current standards of service and care provided to NHS patients will be maintained
- That all NHS staff are valued and supported no matter where in the world they come from, and that current workforce challenges are not adversely effected by any future changes to immigration rules or processes
- The UK would remain a world leader in medical innovation, and that new products, treatments and services should be able to be introduced into the UK market without any disadvantage to patients
- The UK’s position as a world leader in medical research is maintained
- Standards for public health are maintained during and after the Brexit negotiations
David Galloway, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, said:
“Now that talks between the UK and EU have moved to the critical stage, it is imperative that the UK Government constructively engages with the EU to build towards a mutually beneficial Post- Brexit deal.
“If we reach a situation where no agreement is reached with the EU on our future relationship, or that this new relationship fails to facilitate the high standards patients expect from their NHS, this would have an adverse impact on patients in a number of ways. This is a outcome that no-one wants, and so it’s imperative that everyone who has the best interests of the NHS at heart engages constructively with this difficult process. We must leave no stone unturned to ensure that we agree a Brexit deal which does no harm.
“That’s why this report sets out the views of the College on the key aspects of Brexit as it relates to healthcare across the UK. It makes a number of recommendations which, if they are adopted by the UK Government and agreed with the remaining members of the EU, would protect the best interests of patients, the NHS and its staff across the UK.
“We believe that a healthy Brexit deal is possible if there’s a political will behind it. This College is committed to playing an active part in making this positive case until this deal is done.”
The report’s ten recommendations are:
Applications from NHS staff to receive “Settled Status” should be expedited and prioritised for action when this process is established. The cost of this process should be met by government rather than individuals who are currently employed in the NHS.
Future immigration rules should be set with a stated aim of maintaining and augmenting the work of the health and social care sector across the UK. This should include regular reviews of the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation Lists to ensure that specific staff shortages in the NHS are able to be addressed through this route, and that our medical research and pharmaceutical sectors also retain access to the best staff wherever they may come from.
The College believes that the best possible framework for future regulation of medicine lies in ongoing cooperation and partnership between the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Agreeing a cooperative regulatory framework would allow the smoothest transition in terms of the authorisation of medicines for use in the UK, safety and pharmacovigilance. It will provide the best possible opportunity for patients and clinicians.
The UK Government should agree a sufficient transitional period following the current negotiation process to allow for the development of robust, deliverable regulatory processes which do not disadvantage patients in the UK.
In order for the medical research sector to continue to flourish, and the best interests of patients protected, government should guarantee that the current level of funding available to this sector must be at least maintained as the UK leaves the EU.
The College believes that the interests of public health are best served by maintaining close working links with the ECDC after we leave the EU.
Future trade deals agreed by the UK government should explicitly address issues relating to the definition of public services in order to provide explicit protection to the NHS from unintended consequences.
The College believes that the imposition of trade barriers, including non-tariff barriers, on medical goods and services has the potential to have an adverse impact on the UK’s health and social care sector, and so should be avoided whenever possible in any future deal.
The UK and EU should agree to ensure continued close collaboration between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland’s healthcare systems to the benefit of patients, staff and health services.
Standards for public health should be maintained during and after the Brexit negotiations.
The College’s full report, “Securing a healthy Brexit deal” can be found on our website here