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NHS Confederation: Reaching free trade deal essential for patient safety

As we approach the latter stages of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate headlines, but there’s another important ongoing situation at present too, with potentially equally wide-reaching consequences around the UK: Brexit.

With the UK set to have officially exited the European Union on January 1, 2021 there is a significant importance that measures are agreed and in place to ensure a smooth transition.

For the health sector, especially when already facing strain from handling Covid-19, issues or delays regarding trade deals could impact access to medicines, medical technology and patients’ rights to healthcare.

As such, NHS Confederation has called for swift action to ensure deals are in place and healthcare aspects and needs are given a higher priority in the crucial final stage of Brexit negotiations.

Layla McCay, Director of International Relations at NHS Confederation, said: “Reaching a free trade deal is the right answer for everyone including patients in both the UK and the EU.

“If there is no deal and other agreements are not implemented, it will mean uncertainty and be potentially risky for patients and the health sector in the UK and in Europe.

“Failure will result in industry, the NHS, research organisations, public health and regulators having to make significant adjustment to prepare for the end of the year.

“Much of the impact of leaving the single market will be felt immediately – including important areas for responding to the pandemic that depend on a negotiated outcome.

“Areas affecting access to medicines, medical technology and patients’ rights to healthcare must be given much higher priority as negotiations enter a crucial final phase.

“It goes beyond the immediate issues at the border too as getting a deal will influence whether the UK can continue to access things like pandemic data sharing and flagship European science funding.”

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