NHS European Office

Protecting the public's health across Europe after Brexit

UK and European flag

The EU has a range of public health legislation, agencies tasked with enforcing the legislation, and programmes encouraging the strengthening of public health across the EU.

There is widespread consensus on the value brought by working together across Europe on health issues, and on what would be lost if this should cease or diminish.

Mutual collaboration

Both the UK and the EU see the mutual benefits of continuing collaboration on public health after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. However, public health and wider health do not feature specifically in the list of topics for discussion on the future framework for the new relationship between the UK and EU.

For this reason, the NHS Confederation, as a member of the Brexit Health Alliance, is urging both the EU Commission and UK government to prioritise the health of citizens by continuing this collaboration. Read this recent blog from Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation and Chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, on why dealing with the threat of global pandemics could become more difficult without UK-EU collaboration.

Public health campaign

A Brexit Health Alliance campaign, launched at the NHS Confederation’s annual conference in June 2018, focuses on what needs to be done to ensure that the public’s health continues to be protected post-Brexit.

This joint briefing from the Brexit Health Alliance and the Faculty of Public Health, a member of the Alliance, sets out how people across Europe currently benefit from the close collaboration between the UK and EU on public health, and proposes solutions to maintain and improve a high level of public health protection after the UK leaves the European Union.

The briefing calls for:

  • both the EU Commission and UK government to prioritise the public’s health in negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU
  • strong coordination between the UK and EU in dealing with serious cross-border health threats, such as pandemics, infectious diseases, safety of medicines (pharmacovigilance) and contamination of the food chain. Ideally, this would be by continuing access to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and other relevant EU agencies, systems and databases
  • alignment with current and future EU regulatory and health and safety standards relating to, for example, food, medicines, transplant organs and the environment, to avoid the need for replication of inspections and non-tariff barriers at the UK/EU border
  • the UK government to commit to a high level of human health protection when negotiating future free trade and investment agreements.

Read also our blog on tackling public health threats after Brexit.

Find out more about the work of the Brexit Health Alliance.

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