A leading pharmacist has warned of the consequences of having no pharmacy representation on a new group set up to be the voice of the health sector on Brexit.
The Brexit Health Alliance’s founding members include the NHS Confederation, NHS Providers as well as charities and industry groups – but no pharmacy organisations, although the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry is involved.
Sid Dajani, a member of the English Pharmacy Board and a practising community pharmacist, said it was “disgraceful” that pharmacy did not have a seat at the table, adding that it was “muddled thinking” not to have the profession represented when they would be burdened with dealing with some of the consequences of Brexit.
There are 3,500 pharmacists in the UK who qualified in the EU or the European Economic Area, he said. Their future is now uncertain, as the UK has yet to offer any guarantees to EU nationals working here, and many EU nationals fear they may have to leave. “There will be huge staffing issues in both hospital pharmacy and the community,” he warned, adding that it was not just pharmacists — the third largest healthcare profession — but support staff such as delivery drivers who might be affected.
There could also be an impact on the availability of medicines, access to new medicines and licensing, and areas such as research funding, he added. “Brexit is a comet about to hit planet Earth,” he warned.
The Brexit Health Alliance will be co-chaired by Sir Hugh Taylor, the former permanent secretary at the Department of Health, and Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation. It wants to see that issues such as healthcare research, access to technologies and treatment of patients are given the prominence and attention they deserve in the Brexit negotiations.
A second grouping — the Cavendish Coalition — looks at some of the workforce implications of Brexit. The only pharmacy organisation listed as a member of this coalition is the Company Chemists’ Association, which represents eight large businesses involved in community pharmacies.
The Pharmaceutical Journal understands the membership of both groups may be expanded in due course.