NHS European Office

Perspectives on Brexit from the European health community

EU parliament

Putting patients at the forefront of Brexit (December 2018)

With formal ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration now delayed in the UK, the European health community reiterated the importance of putting the safety of patients and public health at the forefront of the Brexit debate.

In their latest statement (12 December), they stressed that whatever the outcome of the UK parliament vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, it is vital that immediate and intense focus is given to healthcare issues including the regulation and supply of medicines and medical technologies in the post-Brexit relationship.

The statement calls for a series of immediate actions to be taken in order to protect patients and public health in the event of a no-deal scenario, including:

  • A mutual recognition agreement for all CE marked medical technologies granted by a UK based notified body (for the EU27) or granted by an EU27 based notified body (for the UK).
  • Temporarily exemption from any new customs and borders checks for medicines and medical technologies, including clinical trial materials.
  • The introduction of measures to enable the continued UK participation in key data sharing platforms that protect public health and medicines and medical technologies' safety in Europe.

Read the full text of the statement from the European Health Community.

European health community organisations voice Brexit concerns (Sept 2018)

Organisations from across the European health community came together on 27 September in the European Parliament to express their concern that no substantial progress has been made in the Brexit negotiations in those areas effecting patients and public health, with many questions remaining unanswered.

The 20 strong group, drawn from research, public health and patients' organisations, called upon EU parliamentarians and negotiators to ensure that the health of EU citizens is kept at the top of the agenda, ensuring that public health and health security are prioritised.

Among the concerns raised and discussed were:

  • In the event of no-deal, how would EU27 national governments mitigate any negative effects of Brexit on healthcare?
  • How will a future deal ensure sufficient and timely supply of drugs and medical devices for both EU and UK patients?
  • What kind of agreement will the UK and EU need to ensure the future medicine and med tech licensing system does not exacerbate delays in access to the most innovative treatments for patients, both in the UK and across the EU?
  • How do we ensure a common framework for collaboration in pan-European research, innovation networks and clinical trials, post-Brexit?

On the value of pan-European research collaboration, Prof. Gerd R. Burmester, Professor of Medicine in the Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology at the Charité University Hospital, and panel chair said: "Health professionals and scientists will all be impacted if health does not receive strong prioritisation in the future relationship between the EU and the UK. It is crucial to recognise the strong links and the success of collaboration on issues ranging from research and innovation, to European Reference Networks".

Five priorities

The event sought to build on the group's joint policy statement from December 2017, where they outlined their five priorities for health in any future EU-UK relationship:

  • Closer cooperation between the EU and UK on the regulation of medicines and medical technologies, to ensure that UK and EU patients will continue to have access to life-saving medicines and medical technologies.
  • Establish a common framework for collaboration in research and information sharing between the EU27 and the UK.
  • Ensure that there are continued reciprocal healthcare arrangements between the EU and UK.
  • Develop strong coordination between the EU and UK on public health, including in pandemic preparation and disease prevention programmes.
  • Ensure EU and UK health professionals continue to benefit from mutually beneficial training and education opportunities, with automatic recognition of qualifications.

Read the event press release and download the speaker presentations from the event.


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