Patient care, both in the UK and Europe, is at risk unless there is a clear plan on what Brexit will mean for the health service, a senior Conservative MP has warned the secretary of state for health and social care.
In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, Sarah Wollaston, chair of the House of Commons Health Select Committee, said patient care was “at risk of being compromised in the event of a disorderly Brexit”.
Wollaston asked for “certainty” on the transition arrangements for healthcare “as soon as possible”. Her request follows the committee’s inquiry into the impact of leaving the EU on life sciences, that she said heard “compelling evidence” from industry, patient groups and health professionals that certainty was needed.
She warned that a “disorderly UK exit” could result in an immediate impact on the supply of essential medicines and medical products, both in the UK and the EU–27.
Stressing the importance of planning to avoid disruption to the supply of medical products, Wollaston said that with only 13 months until the UK exits the European Union on 29 March 2019, “healthcare services and businesses, including those manufacturing and distributing medicines, remain in the dark”.
In her letter, Wollaston called for the government and the European Commission to agree a joint public statement setting out how both sides will protect the interests of patients in the event of a ‘no deal’.
She said: “A joint statement would allay fears of a disorderly exit and honour the commitment both sides have made to protect patient safety.
“Failing this, and in the event that agreement to a transition is not reached by the end of March, the Committee seeks a commitment from the Government to make its own statement about the UK’s unilateral preparations for a no deal situation.”