Health committee chair warns ‘disorderly Brexit could put patients at risk’
Top Tory MP Sarah Wollaston has warned that delays in reaching a Brexit transition deal could put patients at risk.
The chair of the health committee said medical firms were operating “in the dark” with the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU yet to be decided.
Ms Wollaston added that businesses would increasingly be forced to divert cash to Brexit contingency planning if progress was not made in the Government’s negotiations with EU officials.
In a letter to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the Totnes MP wrote: “Patient care, both in the UK and Europe, is at risk of being compromised in the event of a disorderly Brexit.
“Businesses and services, like Government, need to plan for all outcomes to avoid any disruption to the supply of medical products.
“However, with only 13 months until the UK exits the European Union on 29 March 2019, healthcare services and businesses, including those manufacturing and distributing medicines, remain in the dark.
She continued: “If the announcement, and details, of a transition period is delayed beyond March 2018, more businesses will be forced to invest money in contingency plans at the expense of this funding going towards advancing patient care.
“This is an unnecessary cost and distraction, which should be avoided.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth welcomed Ms Wollaston’s “powerful warning” to ministers.
In a statement, he added: “It is critically important that patients’ access to crucial drugs is not in any way restricted once we leave the European Union, and Sarah Wollaston is correct to warn time is running out, with many manufacturers now planning for a worst-case scenario."