Health Service Focus

28.07.17

A welcome signal on the future of medicines

Source: NHE Jul/Aug 2017

Just before NHE went to press, Jeremy Hunt and Greg Clark issued a letter entitled ‘the UK wants to continue to work with the EU on medicines’. David Stevenson reports on this and recent discussions around Brexit.

An “important and welcome signal”. These are the words of Niall Dickson, CEO of NHS Confederation and co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, after the secretaries of health and industry sent a letter to the Financial Times stating that they want to “provide assurance” over the government’s plans for the regulation of medicines as we leave the EU. 

The letter stated that the UK was “fully committed” to continuing to work closely with its European partners in this area: “We have three principles which will help us rise to the challenge of developing a new regulatory system post-Brexit: patients should not be disadvantaged; innovators should be able to get their products into the UK market as quickly and simply as possible; and we continue to play a leading role promoting public health.”

The letter concluded by stating that, whatever the outcomes of the Brexit negotiations, a regulatory system that protects the best interests of patients and supports the UK life science industry to go from strength to strength will be pursued. But it added: “Our door will always be open to a deep and special relationship with the EU which remains the best way to promote improved patient outcomes both in Europe and globally.” 

Responding to the news, Dickson argued that if we get these negotiations wrong, “there is a real danger that patients could be denied access to cutting-edge treatments, and indeed access to a wide range of innovative health technologies”.

The determination of the UK government to continue with a regulatory system that protects and supports the life science sector is very welcome, he added. 

At Confed17, Dickson launched the Brexit Health Alliance, which brings together the NHS, medical research, industry, patients and public health organisations. Its aim is to make sure that issues such as healthcare research, access to technologies and treatment of patients are given the prominence and attention they deserve in the Brexit negotiations. 

“The current EU medicines research, development and regulatory arrangements work well and benefit from the input of UK academics, regulators and industry,” stated Dickson. “For patients in the UK and across Europe we must maintain the highest possible level of collaboration and regulatory alignment.”  

During a recent discussion at Confed17, Sir Hugh Taylor, former permanent secretary at the Department of Health, the current chair of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS FT and co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, said that the single biggest risk factor for his trust over the next 12 months is workforce issues. On top of this, approximately 15% of the staff at his trust are EU nationals. 

“I think that risk is, in part, a funding issue,” he said. “But also, in part, it is a related set of issues to do with pay, the cost of housing and transport. But the Brexit impact is a compounding factor on workforce issues.

“We have touched on access for UK citizens, and we need to ensure we have reciprocal arrangements in place. Then there is the issue of access to technologies and the supply chain as we are big importers for medicines and tech. 

“There is quite a lot for the NHS and the Department of Health to get their heads around on supply chain issues. It is important that health is supported by a strong research and innovation base.  Universities and medical schools are dependent on international talent. We need to ensure the research and innovation base is improved as a result of EU negotiations. There are lots of areas to explore and lots of conversations to be had.” 

In support of the line from the health and industry secretaries, Professor Alan Boyd, president of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, stated that it is essential that the issues of regulation of medicines and devices are properly resolved for the safety and benefit of patients. 

“We would urge the government to closely involve professional bodies representing clinicians and the industry itself as discussions progress, and seek their input and expert advice to enable the best outcome to be achieved for patients and the industry in the UK,” he concluded.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK

opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

First NHS trusts introduce NHS SBS’ The Edge4Health

16/01/2020First NHS trusts introduce NHS SBS’ The Edge4Health

A major new procurement platform developed by NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS), The Edge4Health, is being adopted by NHS trust staff across... more >
NHS mental health director demands urgent gambling action

16/01/2020NHS mental health director demands urgent gambling action

The director of NHS mental health, Claire Murdoch, has penned a written plea to the heads of top gambling firms, urging them to take action on im... more >
Transforming services: We need a left shift not a left drift

16/01/2020Transforming services: We need a left shift not a left drift

Dean Royles, strategic workforce advisor at Skills for Health and co-author of ‘An Introduction to Human Resource Management,’ discus... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us th... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

Transforming services: We need a left shift not a left drift

16/01/2020Transforming services: We need a left shift not a left drift

Dean Royles, strategic workforce advisor at Skills for Health and co-author of ‘An Introduction to Human Resource Management,’ discusses the need to move the treatment of patients from primary to secondary care and how the NHS People Plan can help achieve this. Throughout my (overlong) career in the NHS, the national policy on modernising the way NHS services are delivered has been pretty consistent. All recent governments; ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental health and wellbeing. As the best rugby players in the world repr... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Being on the receiving end of some “thanks” can make communit... more >
Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

13/06/2019Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

Nurses have been named as the most under-appreciated public sector professionals as new research reveals how shockingly under-vauled our NHS, edu... more >
Helpforce to launch training programmes for NHS volunteers

10/06/2019Helpforce to launch training programmes for NHS volunteers

Kay Fawcett OBE, clinical advisor and education lead at Helpforce, and Lynn Twinn, talent development consultant, outline the new national traini... more >
Creating the Cardigan integrated care centre

10/06/2019Creating the Cardigan integrated care centre

Peter Skitt, county director and commissioner for Ceredigion Hywel Dda University Health Board, looks ahead to the new integrated care centre bei... more >

interviews

Mike Farrar, Swim England - Last Word

07/12/2019Mike Farrar, Swim England - Last Word

Mike Farrar Chairperson of Swim England Would you talk us through your previous roles within the NHS? I’ve held a number of ... more >
Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

24/10/2019Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

Today, speaking at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) annual conference, Matt Hancock highlighted what he believes to be the three... more >
NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

17/09/2019NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

Over 20 years ago, a Teesside hospital cleaner put down her mop and took steps towards her midwifery dreams. Lisa Payne has been delivering ... more >
How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to surging demand burdening acute health providers over the winter months,... more >
RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

24/10/2018RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has told NHE that the college’s new headquarters based in Liverpool will become a hu... more >