A group of pan-European healthcare stakeholders launched the statement “COVID-19 and Brexit – Protecting patients across Europe from pandemics” which highlights the importance of addressing health issues as part of the agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that cross-border health threats need effective coordination and brought to the forefront issues such as shortages and unequal access to medicines and personal protective equipment (PPE), the importance of global supply chains and the negative effects of export bans, stockpiling requirements and other restrictions.

The UK has contributed significant expertise and participated extensively in EU-wide health platforms and programmes, though the negotiations between the EU and the UK on their future relationship have reached a critical point and health issues are largely absent from the negotiators’ agenda.

In the light of this, the group of healthcare stakeholders calls upon EU and UK decision-makers to reach agreement on:

  • 1. Public health – Close coordination on public health and wellbeing, including data sharing and early warning systems, to ensure maximum preparedness to tackle health threats.
  • 2. Patient safety – Compatible regulatory frameworks for the manufacture, inspection and licensing of medicines and medical equipment such as ventilators and PPE, enabling rapid release onto the market and guaranteeing high safety standards.
  • 3. Uninterrupted supply of medicines and medical devices – Maximum possible cooperation in import and export of medicines and medical supplies across UK/EU borders, to minimise delays in products reaching patients, including:
    • A Mutual Recognition Agreement on Good Manufacturing Practices that encompasses inspections and batch testing for medicines, and CE-marking of medical technologies.
    • Agreed interpretation of the implications of the Northern Ireland Protocol to ensure continuity of supply of medicines to patients in Northern Ireland.
  • 4. Citizens’ rights to treatment – EU and UK citizens to continue to benefit from reciprocal rights to healthcare, ensuring simple and safe access to treatment when working, living or travelling, at local, affordable cost.
  • 5. Furthering medical research and innovation – Continued UK-EU collaboration in research programmes and clinical trials, including sharing patient data and information, to speed up new treatments, improve patients’ options, and maintain Europe’s R&D framework and reputation as an attractive destination for investments into cutting-edge research.

The full statement can be accessed here.

June 2020_Covid_Brexit statement_European Health stakeholders