Brexit and Health Care Services
Healthcare in the UK is intrinsically entwined with European Union legislation and regulations. From the more obvious health matters – such as the free trade of medicines and medical technologies - to wider policy matters with implications for health – such as the free movement of EU citizens to take up work within the healthcare professions and research posts, to the restrictions on advertising and sale of certain unhealthy products – there are many varied repercussions for healthcare from the final negotiation agreement between the UK and the EU. In addition the UK has benefitted over the years from both research and programme funding from the European Commission, particularly, though not exclusively, from DG Sante, the Commission department responsible for EU policy on food safety and health and for monitoring the implementation of related laws. There will also need to be negotiations on the UK’s role in future cross-border healthcare including the E111, the European Health Insurance card that provides favourable access to healthcare when abroad in EU countries.
Professional bodies within the UK have formed a Brexit Health Alliance, which is ‘working to ensure 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 Alliance argues that ‘it is in both Europe and the UK’s interests to maintain co-operation in research and in handling public health issues’.