A new alliance of healthcare organisations has been formed with the aim of safeguarding the interests of the sector as the UK government moves towards negotiations over Brexit.
The Brexit Health Alliance brings together organisations representing the NHS, medical research, industry, patients and public health.
“Our aim will be to ensure a strong focus on health as Brexit approaches”
It will be co-chaired by Sir Hugh Taylor, the former permanent secretary of the Department of Health, and Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation.
It will seek 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 said it would argue that it is in both Europe and the UK’s interests to maintain co-operation in research and in handling public health issues.
In addition, it will call on ministers to make sure there is a commitment to funding medical research and that the rights of UK citizens to receive healthcare in European Union countries is preserved.
The alliance will complement the work of the Cavendish Coalition, which is concerned with the staffing and workforce implications for health and social care of Brexit. The coalition is led by NHS Employers, which is part of the NHS Confederation.
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Mr Dickson warned that there was a risk that healthcare would “become forgotten alongside the vast number of issues that the negotiators will have to address”.
“It is vital we protect world leading research, that patients have access to medicines when they need them and that co-operation between the UK and Europe continues to protect all our citizens,” he said.
Sir Hugh added: “Our aim will be to ensure a strong focus on health as Brexit approaches, and that we offer views from across the health sector to negotiators to ensure that patient care and the population’s health and wellbeing will be protected as we leave the EU.”
NHS Providers, which represents trusts and other organisations providing services for the NHS, is also a member of the alliance.
Its director of policy and strategy, Saffron Cordery, said: “We welcome this important initiative. The NHS is a great driver of healthcare research and the life sciences industry.
“It has had a leading role in developing and adopting new technologies to improve care for patients,” she said. “It is vital that we continue to support these priorities as part of the Brexit negotiations.
“We must also ensure that UK citizens retain the right to receive healthcare in EU countries,” she added.
Brexit Health Alliance founding members:
- NHS Confederation - Co-chair of alliance
- Welsh NHS Confederation
- Northern Ireland Confederation (NICON)
- Association of UK University Hospitals (AUKUH)
- Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AOMRC)
- NHS Providers
- National Voices
- Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)
- Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI)
- The Richmond Group of Charities
- BioIndustry Association (BIA)
- Faculty of Public Health (FPH)
- Association of Medical Research Charities – (AMRC)
- Scottish NHS Chief Executive Group