Healthcare and medicines sector would face challenges from a disorderly ‘no deal’ Brexit, says Assembly’s External Affairs Committee
Leaving the European Union without a deal would mean that the healthcare and medicines sector in Wales would face a number of significant challenges, the National Assembly's External Affairs Committee has said.
As part of its inquiry into how the sector in Wales is preparing for Brexit, the Committee heard wide-ranging concerns from health sector organisations about the lack of sufficient time to prepare for such an outcome. They outlined the possible implications of Brexit on the continued supply of medicines, access to clinical research and maintaining the health and social care workforce.
The Committee's Chair, David Rees AM said:
"This report lays bare the significant number of challenges that would be faced by the healthcare and medicines sector in Wales in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit."
"The concerns encompass a range of issues including the continued supply of medicines, arrangements for reciprocal healthcare and issues relating to the health and social care workforce after Brexit."
"It is vital that the Welsh Government ramps ups it efforts to prepare the health service in Wales for Brexit. This includes providing us with the necessary assurance that plans are in place to communicate with all levels of the health and social care sectors in Wales."
On supply of medicines, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry told the Committee that 45 million patient packs of medicine move from the UK to the EU every month, with 37 million packs moving in the other direction. Although the Committee heard that the UK Government will be taking a lead on continuity of supply of medicines, it will be for the Welsh Government to ensure that the health service in Wales is not adversely affected in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit.
David Rees AM said:
"The sheer volume of medicines flowing in both directions, coupled with the potential for disruption to supply chains in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit really brought home to us the need for the Welsh Government to ensure that plans are in place to prevent this from happening. That is why we have recommended that the Welsh Government share with us details of its coordination with the UK Government on this issue."
The Committee makes five recommendations in its report for consideration by the Welsh Government including:
that the Welsh Government provides details of the risks it has identified relating to the Brexit preparedness of the Welsh healthcare sector and details of how the Welsh Government intends to communicate preparedness plans with all levels of the health and social care sectors in Wales;
that the Welsh Government provides details of its discussions with the UK Government on the coordination of Brexit preparedness in terms of medicines, including the work that is underway to ensure sufficient warehouse capacity to meet any potential stockpiling requirements;
that the Welsh Government reveals details of how it is pressing the UK Government for continued regulatory cooperation between the UK and the EU in terms of access to medicines and clinical research after Brexit;
that the Welsh Government calls on the UK Government to guarantee access to medical radioisotopes after Brexit; and
that the Welsh Government provides the Committee with details in terms of updating plans for recruitment and retention of health and social care staff after Brexit.
Read the full report:
Preparing for Brexit - Report on the preparedness of the healthcare and medicines sector in Wales (PDF, 215 KB)