Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement that if no agreement is reached by 15 October both sides should “move on”, Niall Dickson, co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, said:
“Everyone in the health sector has worked tirelessly with the EU and the UK to secure agreements on the health-related changes that matter most to patients. We remain firmly of the view that reaching a free trade deal is the right answer for everyone, not least for patients in the UK and in EU.
“There will doubtless be posturing on all sides at this critical stage in the negotiations but we must warn that if there is no deal and earlier agreements are not taken forward, it will mean uncertainty and be potentially risky for patients and the health sector in the UK and in Europe.
“We now have a matter of weeks to reach an agreement. Failure to do so will result in industry, the NHS, research organisations, public health and regulators having to make significant adjustment to prepare for the end of the year.
“These are the same organisations and staff who are working to recover services after the first wave of COVID-19 infections, prepare for a potential second wave and source vital medical products and ingredients for testing.
“Given the expectation that additional pressure on the health and social care system created by COVID-19 is likely to continue into and past the winter of 2020, a time when the service is annually stretched, we expect the sector to continue to experience a significant burden and risk being overwhelmed.
“When it comes to protecting patients, there is still time for negotiations to reach agreements that will ease the impact on the NHS and care sector.”