NHS reforms


EMA: Wollaston warns UK risks becoming ‘rule-taker rather than rule-maker’

The chair of the Health and Social Care Committee has written to the health secretary demanding clarity on the transitional arrangements for medicines set out in the Draft Agreement on Brexit.

The Draft Agreement appears to state that during the transition, UK agencies and industry will continue to abide by European Medicines Agency (EMA) laws and regulations, but the committee says that there appears to be no formal method of engaging with the decision-making process of the EMA.

In her letter to Jeremy Hunt, committee chair, Dr Sarah Wollaston, asks: “Does this limit the UK to becoming a ‘rule-taker’ rather than a ‘rule-maker’ with regards to the EMA during the transitional period?

“What degree of transparency will be afforded by the government regarding those EMA meetings which the UK continues to be invited to during transition, to allow for parliamentary, stakeholder and public scrutiny?”

The Draft Agreement appears to outline a “more restrictive relationship with the EMA” than was set out by the prime minister for associate membership, and Wollaston questioned Hunt about how the government will negotiate associate membership after the transition period “if, for the 21 months previously, the UK has accepted a significantly ‘worse’ deal from the EU?”

In her letter, she warned that the conditions of the Draft Agreement appear to suggest that from the onset of the transitional period, the UK will be excluded from the EMA and other EU agencies, without permission to attend EMA meetings or contribute to decision-making – despite retaining membership of the bodies during the period.

The committee has previously argued that “the worst outcome [post-Brexit] would be for the UK to become an isolated rule-taker,” and Wollaston again argued that this may be what the transitional period holds for the UK.

The new data briefing on NHS winter pressures makes it clear what a difficult winter this has been, the Nuffield Trust has said.

Over a fifth of patients (23%) spent more than four hours in A&E, compared with 21% last winter and just 6% in 2010-11.

One in eight ambulance handovers were delayed by more than 20 minutes, peaking at one in four on 2 January, and 3% of handovers were delayed by over an hour – this also peaked on 2 January at 9%.

General and acute bed occupancy was at a whopping 94.4%, and exceeded 90% for all but four days this winter, with an average of 20 trusts having over 99% occupancy each day.

On average the number of available beds dropped by 1,100 from last winter, although there were also 1,500 fewer bed days lost due to delayed discharges this winter.

In response to the report, the Nuffield Trust said: “Hospitals have been operating at alarmingly high occupancy levels, opening an average of five-and-a-half extra hospitals’ worth of beds every day this winter, and some trusts seeing 99 in every 100 beds full.

“At the same time ambulances have been queuing outside hospitals for worryingly long periods of time, with over one in eight ambulances delayed by more than half an hour in handing patients over to hospital.”

The think tank warned that behind these figures are stories of patients in pain and distress, as well as NHS staff members working in stressful and pressured conditions.

“We know that the NHS has been pulling out all the stops to keep the health service on the straight and narrow this winter,” it added.

“But with staff shortages widespread and funding tight, it has been doing this with the odds stacked against it.”

An NHS England spokesperson said: “As we have said before, in the face of a ‘perfect storm’ of prolonged bad weather, persistently high flu hospitalisation and spikes in norovirus, the NHS treated 160,000 more A&E patients within four hours during a challenging winter, compared with the previous year.

“The NHS also treated a record number of cancer patients over the most pressured months of the year.”

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an NHE columnist? If so, click here.


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Councillors fear identity crisis following CCG merger

22/06/2018Councillors fear identity crisis following CCG merger

Members of one of Kent’s leading councils have voiced their concerns against an upcoming merger between CCGs in the area. Cllr Wendy P... more >
Top NHS England boss to leave the organisation

22/06/2018Top NHS England boss to leave the organisation

NHS England’s chief financial officer will leave the post after 11 years. Paul Baumann CBE, who joined NHS London in 2007, and took up... more >
Most urgent primary care services ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’

22/06/2018Most urgent primary care services ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’

Over eight in 10 primary care services are providing good care, despite mounting work force and commissioning pressures, the CQC has said. A... 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

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now beyond doubt or dispute, other than in government, th... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

The impact of NICE on cardiovascular disease prevention

06/06/2018The impact of NICE on cardiovascular disease prevention

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director Health and Social Care at NICE, looks into what can be done to decrease cardiovascular disease nationally and how to prevent missed opportunities in the future. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for just over a quarter of deaths and affects around 7 million people in the UK. ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >


Getting more out of our medicines

20/06/2018Getting more out of our medicines

Paul Chrisp, programme director of medicines and technologies at NICE, describes how the organisation is re-purposing drugs in order to improve p... more >
Under attack

20/06/2018Under attack

One attack against an NHS worker is one too many. But unfortunately, the trend in recent years has been alarmingly upwards, with no part of the N... more >
Lessons from WannaCry

20/06/2018Lessons from WannaCry

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, warns that the UK Government must take seriously the threat of a more soph... more >
A hostile environment

20/06/2018A hostile environment

Dr Terry John, chair of the BMA’s international committee, gives his thoughts on the government’s visa and immigration policy and its... more >


Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >

health service focus

View all News