With the Brexit landscape constantly changing, this section pulls together the latest updates on Brexit and its potential impact on health and care.
Department for Health and Social Care communications
Following the votes this week, the Department of Health and Social Care has issued (on 15 March) communications to the health and care system and industry. This update re-emphasises that we must continue to plan for a no deal scenario on 29 March. Until a Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by the UK and European Parliament, or any extension is agreed by the EU, the legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019 without a deal.
Here's what the Department for Health and social care had to say:
As you will be aware, over the last few days Parliament voted against leaving the EU without a deal and in favour of extending Article 50, meaning that the UK might not leave the EU on 29 March. It is still possible that we are able to leave on 29 March with a deal, although time is very short.
Nevertheless, unless and until a Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by the UK and European Parliament, or any extension is agreed by the EU, the legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019 without a deal.
Therefore, as a responsible government we must continue to plan for a no deal scenario on 29 March.
We are continuing to work closely with trade bodies, product suppliers, the health and care system in England, the Devolved Administrations and Crown Dependencies, to make detailed plans to ensure the continuation of the supply of medical products to the whole of the UK in the event of a no deal EU Exit. We are also asking every part of the health and social care system to continue their planning.
As you will know, engagement across the sector so far has been excellent and as such our plans are well advanced. While we never give guarantees, we are confident that, if everyone – including suppliers, freight companies, international partners, and the health and care system - does what they need to do, the supply of medicines and medical products should be uninterrupted in the event of exiting the EU without a deal.
New guidance on the regulation of medical devices
The Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency has published guidance that sets out how medical devices will be regulated in the UK in a Brexit "no-deal" scenario. The guidance provides further detail on how the UK regulatory framework will operate after 29 March and what manufacturers and healthcare organisations need to do to ensure their devices are certified for use post-Brexit.
"No-deal" medicines availability: NHSE publishes patient Q&A
NHS England has published further guidance for patients on how they can continue to access their medicines and medical products in the event of a "no-deal" EU Exit, with a quick Q&A for more information and guidance to prescribers of medicines on what action they should take when dispensing patients' medicines.
Health Minister updates MPs on "no-deal" medicines' supply
Stephen Hammond, Minister of State for Health, has made a Written Ministerial Statement updating MPs on the Department for Health and Social Care’s plans for the continuity of medicines and medical products in the event the UK exits the EU without a deal.
Sharing personal data post-Brexit
NHS Improvement has issued new guidance (21 February 2019) to NHS organisations on the actions they need to take to ensure continuity of access to, processing and sharing of personal data in the event of a "no-deal" Brexit.
New guidance on the availability of medical devices post-Brexit
NHS Improvement has issued new guidance (11 February 2019) to NHS providers and heads of procurement on the actions they need to take to safeguard the availability and supply of medical devices and clinical consumables in the event of a "no-deal" Brexit.
Updated guidance from NHS England on no-deal Brexit
Professor Keith Willett, EU Exit Strategic Commander and Medical Director for Acute Care and Emergency Preparedness at NHS England, has written to clinical commissioning group (CCG) and trust chief executives outlining the operational response that NHS England and NHS Improvement are undertaking at a national and regional level in preparation for a "no-deal" Brexit scenario.
Access to healthcare post-Brexit
The Government has issued guidance to holders of S1 certificates informing them that in the event of no deal, these certificate may not be valid after 29 March 2019, depending on decisions taken by EU/EEA member states. An S1 certificate allows the holder to access healthcare in the EU/EEA country in which they live and is used by many UK pensioners living in Spain and France.
Government cancels EU Settlement Scheme fee
The Government has decided to drop the £65 fee it had planned to charge EU27 nationals applying for settled status which would allow them to continue to live and work in the UK after Brexit. Anyone who applied as part of the various pilot schemes will also have their fee reimbursed. Read more on the EU Settlement Scheme.
Accessing medicines post-Brexit
The Government has issued an amendment to the Human Medicines (Amendment) Regulations 2019, adding a Serious Shortage Protocol for potential shortages of medicines that could occur in scenarios such as a no-deal Brexit. The Protocol makes provisions for pharmacists to supply a different strength, quantity or pharmaceutical form of certain medicines in particular situations. Read the explanatory notes to accompany the amendment and the communication to patients (18 January 2019).
Welsh Government launches new Brexit website
The Welsh Government has launched a new public website to reassure and advise citizens and organisations about the potential impacts of a no deal Brexit in Wales and providing information about the steps that need to be taken to prepare in the event of a no-deal outcome.
Government loses vote on Brexit deal
MPs have voted to reject Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal by 230 votes (14 January), leaving Mrs May 3 days to present her "plan B" to Parliament. Read more.
MHRA issues updated guidance on medicines' regulation
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued updated guidance setting out the UK’s proposed arrangements for medicines' regulation if we leave the EU on 29 March 2019 with no deal.
Government updates its "no-deal" guidance for health sector
On 20 December, the Government published updated guidance for the NHS on what providers and commissioners of health and care services in England need to know and should do now to prepare for the possibility that the UK leaves the EU without agreement on 29 March 2019.
Government Immigration White Paper
NHS Employers has responded to the publication (19 December) of the Government's long-waited White Paper on proposals for immigration rules post-Brexit.
EU Contingency Action Plan
The European Commission has published a series of notices to help EU27 citizens and businesses to prepare in the event of a no-deal Brexit and to ensure minimum disruption to Union life.
EU Settlement Scheme
The Home Office has been developing the EU Settlement Scheme to ensure that EU citizens living and working in the UK can continue to do so once the UK has left the European Union. The scheme was announced in June and launched using a phased pilot approach in August 2018, with a further pilot taking place in late 2018. It will be fully operational by 30 March 2019.
European health community
With formal ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement by the UK Parliament on hold, the European health community has reiterated the importance of putting the safety of patients and public health at the forefront of the Brexit debate.
Welsh NHS Confederation
The Welsh NHS Confederation has responded the the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee report on how prepared the NHS is for Brexit.
Brexit Health Alliance meets with MPs
The Brexit Health Alliance met with MPs, Lords, government officials and health sector leaders to share their perspectives on the far-reaching impacts of Brexit on health.
This new infographic from the Brexit Health Alliance highlights the key areas for health that will be affected if the UK finds itself in a no-deal scenario. Download your copy.
The Withdrawal Agreement
The Withdrawal Agreement and political declaration, while yet to be ratified by the UK Parliament, set out the terms of the UK's divorce deal and framework for future relationship with the EU. Read more.
Managing EU withdrawal: Welsh NHS Confederation
The Welsh NHS Confederation has produced a frequently asked questions document for health and social care, which aims to answer some of the main questions concerning the UK's exit from the EU.
The government has published a series of technical notices setting out information to enable businesses and organisations to make informed plans and preparations in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Read our analysis of the technical notices on health.