No deal Brexit – what does it mean for women with ovarian cancer?

29 March 2019
Parliament

While there is very little clarity around Brexit and what will happen if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, Head of Public Affairs and Research Marie-Claire Platt outlines what we know.

We will continue to update this blog post with new developments.

The UK will no longer be leaving the EU on the 29th March 2019, following an agreement with the EU to extend Article 50.

While Parliament has still not voted to approve the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement, or on an alternative, the Government and the Department of Health is continuing to plan for a no deal scenario.

The Government has put in place a range of contingency measures to ensure the continuity of  supply of medicines, including medicines prescribed through clinical trials, for patients in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. They have set up the Medicines Supply Contingency Programme, and the National Supply Disruption Response to monitor this supply and address any border disruption for medicines that are imported from outside the UK. Pharmaceutical companies in the UK have also been asked to ensure they have an extra six weeks’ worth of medicines in addition to their usual stocks. In theory this should mean that ovarian cancer patients’ access to medicines, including those on a clinical trial, should not be disrupted.

Many are also worried about what a no-deal Brexit will mean across all parts of the NHS workforce. The EU Settlement Scheme has been launched for EU nationals, and was rolled out to NHS staff before its official launch. The Government has reaffirmed that EU nationals play a crucial role in our NHS, and we, along with other cancer charities are urging the Government to undertake an assessment of the impacts of Brexit on the health and social care workforce.

There are currently no arrangement in place for reciprocal healthcare if we leave without a deal.  The Government has agreed that the rights of EU citizens living in the UK will be protected in the event of a no-deal (including their rights to healthcare). This means that EU citizens currently in the UK should experience no change in their ability to access healthcare including cancer treatment. The UK Government hopes that the EU will reciprocate for UK citizens in the EU, but this has not yet been confirmed.

We still don’t know the true effect that leaving the European Union without a deal will have on patients and this is unlikely to be clear of all the impacts until (and if) it happens. Alongside a network of cancer charities we are continuing to support a Brexit outcome that has no negative impact on patients and on medical research.

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