An alliance of leading healthcare organisations has called on the government to protect the interests of patients in the Brexit negotiations with the EU.
The Brexit Health Alliance, which brings together the NHS, medical research, industry, patients and public health organisations, has warned that patients will suffer unless negotiators make sure that issues such as healthcare research and access to new medicines are given the attention they deserve.
“There are great opportunities but also great dangers in these negotiations,” said Niall Dickson, co-chair of the Alliance. “Patients stand to lose out if we cannot go on collaborating in major medical research studies; if we cannot access new treatments and medical devices as we do now; and if UK nationals in the EU are no longer able to benefit from access to healthcare abroad, and vice versa. It is also vital that there is a firm commitment on all sides to joint co-ordination in response to public health threats.”
The Alliance is also calling for EU citizens’ right to receive healthcare in the UK to be preserved.
The Alliance has set five priorities for the negotiators:
1. Maximum levels of research and innovation collaboration
2. Regulatory alignment for the benefit of patients and population health
3. Preservation of reciprocal healthcare arrangements
4. Robust coordination mechanisms on public health and wellbeing
5. A strong funding commitment to the health and public health sectors
The Alliance argues it is in both Europe's and the UK’s interests to maintain co-operation on all these areas.
Dickson added: “We hope that the publication of these five priority areas will help support the government to achieve the best result for patients and for healthcare across the UK.
“There is a huge amount of expertise within the Alliance and we urge the Government to make good use of this to make sure that these vital issues affecting the health and wellbeing of everyone in the UK are not forgotten alongside all the other issues in the negotiations.”