Tuesday, 13 March 2018 05:59

KEY ORGANISATIONS WARN OF BREXIT THREAT TO NHS

STAFF SHORTAGES, EHIC, RESEARCH, ACCESS TO TREATMENT AND POWER-GRAB CONCERNS RAISED

Brexit poses “grave threats” to Scotland’s NHS, the SNP has said – after a number of leading healthcare organisations expressed concerns about the impact of Tory proposals to leave the EU ahead of giving evidence at Holyrood’s Health Committee today [Tuesday]. 

In written evidence submitted to Holyrood’s Health Committee ahead of the meeting, Cancer Research UK, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Law Society of Scotland, Community Pharmacy Scotland and the Association of Medical Research Charities – which represents groups including the British Heart Foundation and the Wellcome Trust – each stated concerns with Tory Brexit plans and the impact that this will have on healthcare - including on the continued access to lifesaving treatment for cancer patients, the ability to attract vital staff in our NHS, funding and access to clinical research projects, continued participating in the EHIC scheme, and opposition to the Tories’ power grab.

Cancer Research UK also singled out the Scottish Government’s action to support research activities – and called on the UK government to offer more detail on how medical research will be supported.

Commenting, SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth, who sits on Holyrood’s Health Committee, said:

“The Tories think they can do anything they want to Scotland and get away with it but their hard Brexit strategy is now causing concern throughout the health and social care sector – and clearly poses a grave threat to our NHS.

“Just last week, experts from the Nuffield Trust, ASH Scotland and the BMA told our committee of the threat to health services in Scotland if the NHS is put up for grabs as part of future trade deals.

“And this week we have more warnings from Cancer Research UK, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Community Pharmacy Scotland and others over our ability to attract highly skilled nurses and doctors to work in our NHS after Brexit, and our ability to participate in ground-breaking, cross-border medical research.

“The continued lack of detail over what will replace our membership of key organisations such as Euratom, which ensure cancer patients can access lifesaving treatments readily and swiftly, is utterly shameful.

“And this evidence also shows that it isn’t just the Scottish and Welsh Governments that are concerned about the great Tory power grab – as frontline health sector organisations have also warned the Tories against taking powers over reciprocal healthcare away from Scotland after Brexit – health is a devolved area and it is only right that it stays that way.  

“The Tories need to wake up to the reality of how damaging their Brexit plans are for our health service – they cannot keep ignoring the experts.”

Written evidence to the Health Committee available in full here: http://parliament.scot/S5_HealthandSportCommittee/Meeting%20Papers/HS_PUBLIC_PAPERS_V2_13.03.18.pdf 

Community Pharmacy Scotland on cancer:
“In this specific example, if there is no agreement with the EU, UK patients will not be able to participate in EU trials, which means patients will miss out on the opportunity of potential life saving treatments and techniques.”

Community Pharmacy Scotland on power-grab of reciprocal health:
“We believe that, given Health is almost entirely a devolved matter, it is inappropriate that reciprocal healthcare is dealt with using a common framework following Brexit.

“Where health related powers return to Westminster from the EU, Scotland needs to ensure that these are devolved as opposed to following a common framework, as our public health services are already at a more advanced stage than other home nations and development would suffer if it was necessary to pursue UK legislative change to allow further innovation.”

Community Pharmacy Scotland on free movement:
“Any move to restrict free movement of the labour force or which would make the UK less attractive to work in will have serious consequences for the health of the Scottish people.

“There are a number of clear risks to patients in altering the free movement of workers who contribute to our health and social care system, but it is our opinion that there are also an unknown number of unintended consequences which will have negative effects for the Scottish public and the NHS. Beyond the opportunity to raise entry requirements for professionals, it is challenging to see any potential benefits of Brexit on this workforce in the face of such challenges.”

Cancer Research UK on research access:
“Any delay in aligning with the EU CTR could leave the UK behind, without access to a harmonised regulatory system. This could significantly impact our ability to do clinical research and lead world-class studies.

“We also welcome the Scottish Government highlighting the importance of “maintaining strong relationships with other EU countries, including the free movement of world-class researchers” to research in Scotland in Scotland’s Place in Europe and throughout the Brexit negotiations. Now, more detail is needed from the UK Government on how these priorities will be taken forward in negotiations and in domestic policy.”

Association of Medial Research Charities:
“We remain concerned that that uncertainty about the UK’s future migration system is damaging the UK’s reputation and attractiveness as a place to do research. 11. In June 2017, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) ran a survey of its researchers to find out their views on Brexit-related issues. One key finding was that 80% of BHF funded researchers who are EU nationals said they were now more likely to seek work outside the UK.”

Royal Society of Edinburgh:
“The Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) has reported that there has been a sharp decline in new registrations from the top six countries (Spain, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Italy, Ireland) which make up over 90% of the previous inward migration of nurses from EEA countries. These are UK figures. (NMC, September 2017). Overall the number of new EEA registrations was down by 89% against the 2012-16 average and the number leaving was up by 67% - a net outflow of around 3000 nursing registrations. The social care sector finds it particularly challenging to recruit nursing staff.”

Law Society of Scotland on EHIC:
“We recommend that negotiations are given priority in this area [EHIC] and reciprocal and mutually beneficial arrangements for health care coverage and maintaining cross border healthcare are progressed.”

Law Society of Scotland on Euratom:
“Withdrawal from the Euratom raises major concerns of the supply and availability of this life saving material. There is a serious concern that the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer will be greatly affected by leaving the Euratom. They expressed particular concerns about the possibility of new customs controls on transports from the EU. The delays resulting from such controls could necessitate a new approach to importation given that any delays could render the isotopes useless and hoped that the UK would have as close a relationship as possible with Euratom post Brexit.”

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