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Brexit Q&A

You may have heard discussion in the media about Brexit’s potential impact on the NHS and access to medicines and treatments, as well as a number of different deadlines and advice on how to prepare.

Here, we look at some of these key Brexit-related issues as they relate to brain tumours and what you need to know.

What is happening?

The UK Government is in the process of negotiating an exit deal from the European Union (EU), known commonly as Brexit. We’re currently legally obliged to leave the EU on 31 October 2019 with or without a deal.

However, recent legislation means that if the Government has not agreed a new deal with the EU by 19 October the Government must write to the other 27 member states of the EU and request an extension to the Article 50 treaty, meaning the Brexit date will be pushed back to 31 January 2020.

What is the Government doing?

There’s particular concern and uncertainty among medical health charities, healthcare professionals and patients that a no-deal Brexit will disrupt access to medicines, treatments and clinical trials.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has issued new information to highlight the contingency measures they have put in place to make sure medicines are still available, even in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

This includes:

  • increasing UK stocks of medicines
  • ensuring medicines are a priority on transport links between the UK and the EU
  • working with suppliers to prepare them for new border and customs controls
  • ensuring flexible regulation so EU approved medicines can continue to be used in the UK

The DHSC has issued guidance to the pharmaceutical industry to increase their medicine stocks by at least 6 weeks on top of their usual buffer stocks and has stated that the stock of medical devices will be increased on a national level.

The DHSC has also announced their plans to create an ‘express freight service’, which will transport medicines into the UK within 24 hours if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. 

Despite this increased pace of preparation, The Brain Tumour Charity is still highly concerned about the impact a no-deal Brexit will have on patient’s access to medicines, treatments and clinical trials. 

The Government has recently launched an information campaign about Brexit.

Find out more information

What does this mean for you?

The Department of Health and Social Care’s advice to patients is to keep ordering repeat prescriptions and taking medicines as normal. They recommend against ordering extra or stockpiling medications.

If you’re worried about a particular medicine, please speak to your doctor or pharmacist. They’ll be able to advise as best they can and offer information on substitution if appropriate to your needs.

Read the full NHS guidance

What are we doing?

As a registered charity The Brain Tumour Charity is a politically-neutral organisation, and we don’t take a position on whether the UK should remain or leave our current EU arrangements.

We want everyone affected by a brain tumour to always have access to the best possible diagnostics, treatments and support services.

Based on our expert opinion, and that of others working in the medical health sector, we believe that a no-deal Brexit poses severe risks to people being treated and living with brain tumours.

We urge the UK government and the EU to do everything in their powers to avoid a no-deal Brexit scenario.

Leaving the EU with or without a deal is very likely to have implications on three key areas which we’re focussing on. These are:

  1. Access to Medicines and Treatments
  2. Research and clinical trials
  3. Medical workforce across the NHS

Through our membership of various coalitions and alliances, including the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), The Brain Tumour Charity is trying to ensure that research, access to medicines and the treatment of patients are given the prominence and attention they deserve in Brexit discussions.

We believe that this collaborative approach is currently the most effective and impactful way of raising shared concerns. 

We’ve also been reaching out to Royal Colleges and pharmaceutical companies to understand their plans to continue delivering the best care and treatments in the event of both a deal and no-deal Brexit. We’ll keep you updated with what we know when we know it.

If you’re worried about the supply of your medicines, please speak to your doctor for more information. You can also raise your concerns with your local MP.

Whilst the current political situation means an uncertain time for many The Brain Tumour Charity is fully committed to driving forward with our strategy to ensure we double survival and halve the harm caused by brain tumours. We’ll do this by continuing our commitments to invest and support pioneering research and researchers.

Media contacts at The Brain Tumour Charity

Press office contact details:

Phone: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm: 01252 237864
Out of hours media contact: 07990 828385
Email: pressoffice@thebraintumourcharity.org