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Brexit: cross-border care threat to patients

Union Jack and EU flag being ripped apart

Patient care and the NHS face ‘severe consequences’ unless those negotiating Brexit can agree on preserving cross-border health arrangements.

As part of its latest briefing paper on the implications Brexit holds for healthcare, the association has published its recommendations for the UK and EU in the latest round of negotiations.

The Impact of Leaving the EU on Patients warns that exiting the EU has the potential to ‘significantly affect’ patient care for UK and EU citizens, as well as doctors and other health professionals, medical research and public health.

Among its recommendations are that Westminster provides permanent residency rights to all EU doctors and medical academics in the UK, and for both sides to retain mutual recognition of medical qualifications and patient access to care.

It further adds that any future Brexit deal should see the UK maintain its participation in European Medicines Agency assessments to prevent delays in new medicines being released, and for the UK and EU to continue sharing information through the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control).

It states: ‘Patients in the UK are currently treated and cared for by a health and social care workforce that has many overseas doctors, carers and nurses, including from other countries in the EU.

‘The UK health system also has important collaborations, safeguards and agreements with the EU that support patient care, such as the cross-border recognition of medical qualifications, the diagnosis and treatment of patients with rare diseases and cancer, and patients’ ability to access healthcare elsewhere in Europe at no, or reduced, cost.

‘It is vital that the UK Government’s negotiations with the EU prioritise the ability for the UK and EU to continue to work closely across these areas and that measures are put in place that provide stability to essential health services, patients, and the workforce when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

‘Otherwise, the potential impacts of Brexit could have severe consequences for patients, healthcare professionals and the NHS more widely.’

The briefing outlines how continued close alignment on matters relating to health stand to benefit patients in the UK and EU.

For the UK this includes continuity of care for UK citizens living in or visiting the EU, continuing access to ECDC’s emergency preparedness systems and, in Northern Ireland, continued cross-border collaboration.

Continued cooperation would also mean the EU being able to access UK-led clinical trials and data on infectious diseases, as well as ensuring that European pharmaceutical companies remain able to access the UK and distribute UK-made medicines in the EU.

Find out more about Brexit

Read the paper

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