HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 6 July 2016
|Alistair Burt announces resignation
5 July 2016, Health Service Journal, David Williams
Community and Social Care Minister, Alistair Burt, has announced he will step down in September following the appointment of a new prime minister. Speaking at the end of an oral health questions session at the House of Commons yesterday, he stated that this was “not a sudden post-Brexit resignation”. He will serve until September when a new ministerial team is appointed.
The news was largely reported in the healthcare press including Chemist and Druggist, Pharmacy Biz, The Pharmaceutical Journal, P3 Pharmacy as well as noted by Politics Home . Pharmacy Voice and NPA issued a statement in response to the announcement.
4 July 2016, pharmaphorum, Richard Staines
While the pharmaceutical industry in the UK, US and Europe more or less unanimously backed ‘Remain’ in the EU referendum campaign, a few pro-Brexit voices believe the UK leaving Europe is an opportunity for the sector. One of these voices is Mike Rea, chief executive of ‘path-to-market’ consultancy IDEA Pharma. He argues that this is an opportunity for the UK to cut drug regulation red tape and build trading relationships with the rest of the world to become more of a global player.
There is no Parliamentary coverage today.
|Alistair Burt announces resignation
5 July 2016, Health Service Journal, David Williams
Community and social care minister Alistair Burt has announced he will step down in September following the appointment of a new prime minister.
Mr Burt made the announcement at the end of an oral health questions session in the Commons today.
He was made health minister following the 2015 general election, although he served in several ministerial posts under the 2010-15 coalition government, and in the Conservative government of the 1990s.
Mr Burt told the Commons that this was “not a sudden post-Brexit resignation”, but it would be his final oral questions session. He also said he will continue to serve as a minister until September, when a new prime minister would be in place and would appoint a new ministerial team.
Following his announcement he was praised as “witty and popular” by speaker John Bercow, while Labour MP Valerie Vaz said he had been a “fantastic minister”.
Earlier in the same session, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs repeatedly called on the government to confirm that NHS staff from EU countries would be guaranteed the right to stay in the UK.
Mr Hunt acknowledged that the NHS would “fall over without the incredible work [EU nationals] do”.
Although he did not guarantee EU staff would have the right to stay, he said “we are confident in the negotiations ahead we will be able to secure the outcome they and we all want”.
Minister for quality Ben Gummer added that “one thing we all have a duty to do is to make sure we undo the damage done during the referendum campaign”, which he said had created a “poisonous atmosphere”. He said MPs should personally thank EU staff Britain for their work and dedication.
5 July 2016, Pharmacy Biz, Neil Trainis
Alistair Burt has announced he will resign as social care minister in the wake of junior doctors’ decision to reject the government’s offer of a new contract.
Pharmacy is now bracing itself for a new minister with responsibility for the profession after Burt, the MP for North East Bedfordshire, announced he will be standing down in September.
He told outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that he would leave his post “a few weeks ago.” Addressing MPs in the Commons, Burt said his resignation was not a consequence of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
“Twenty-four years and one month ago I answered my first question as a junior minister in the House in oral questions and I’ve just completed my last oral questions,” he said.
“This is not a sudden post-Brexit resignation, it’s not catching. A few weeks ago I made clear to the Secretary of State, and to the Prime Minister and the chief whip that I wouldn’t after the referendum be seeking a post in what I expected to be a reshuffled government.
“So taking the chance that most ministers don’t get because they never know when the end will come, could I thank colleagues for their forbearance over many years.”
5 July 2016, The Pharmaceutical Journal
Alistair Burt has announced that he will step down as health minister in September 2016.
Burt, who has been leading on the government’s proposals to cut £170m from the community pharmacy budget in England in 2016, announced his decision while he was taking health questions in the House of Commons on 5 July 2016.
The health minister told MPs this would be his last health parliamentary question time as he was stepping down in September 2016. He gave no reason for his decision.
Burt was appointed minister of state for community and social care at the Department of Health in May 2015 following the Conservative Party’s success in the UK general election. His remit includes primary care services – including pharmacy and GP services. He is also responsible for social care.
The Department of Health confirmed that Burt is resigning his ministerial position; a spokesperson said “it would be business as usual” until September, when his successor will be chosen.
Burt is Conservative MP for north and east Bedfordshire and first entered Parliament in 1983.
5 July 2016, P3 Pharmacy
The pharmacy minister Alistair Burt has resigned. He told MPs during health questions in parliament yesterday (July 5) that he plans to stand down in September.
Commenting on the surprise news, NPA chairman Ian Strachan said: “Alistair Burt’s departure presents an opportunity for everyone to draw breath, and to pause and reflect on the Government’s proposals for community pharmacies.
“[His] successor should be given the opportunity to thoroughly review the Department of Health’s plans before any steps are taken towards implementation. He or she should also look carefully at the alternatives laid out by the pharmacy sector, and we look forward to a constructive, open-minded dialogue.”
“It’s surely time to go back to the drawing board.”
5 July 2016, Politics Home, Josh May
Mr Burt made a statement at the despatch box after Health Questions revealing his departure.
He said the decision had been taken prior to the EU referendum and was not related to the decision to leave the EU.
“Twenty-four years and one month ago, I answered my first question as a junior minister in oral questions and I’ve just completed my last oral questions,” Mr Burt said.
“This is not a sudden post-Brexit resignation, it’s not catching; a few weeks ago I made clear to the Secretary of State and to the Prime Minister and the Chief Whip that I wouldn’t after the referendum be seeking a post in what I expected to be a reshuffled government – and in the event, I hope to carry on with my duties until September but there won’t be another oral questions.
“So taking the chance that most ministers don’t get because we never know when the end will come, could I thank colleagues for their forbearance over many years in subjects as varied as child support, disability, the Arab Spring, and the relentless pursuit of mental health data from the Honourable Lady from Liverpool Wavertree – to thank colleagues very much for their forbearance, to say I’m looking forward to taking part in more questions from another seat in the chamber, but to wish all colleagues very well indeed.”
John Bercow responded to Mr Burt by praising him as an “extremely popular and respected minister who commands widespread affection and loyalty in all parts of the House”.
Before joining the Department of Health after last year’s election, Mr Burt’s frontbench career encompassed spells in the Foreign Office between 2010 and 2013, Shadow Communities Secretary in the early years of David Cameron’s leadership of the Conservative party, and stints in the Department of Social Security in John Major’s government.
5 July 2016, Pharmacy Voice
In light of the news that Alistair Burt has decided to step down from his position as Minister of State for Community and Social Care in September, Pharmacy Voice has issued this brief statement:
“Despite our opposing views on how we secure the future of community pharmacy, we wish the Minister well. Given how much he has learned about our sector, and the broad ranging support it enjoys from patients and their representatives, we trust he will become a passionate advocate for the sector from the back benches.
“We look forward to working with whoever is appointed to replace Alistair, and will continue to reiterate the importance of community pharmacy to the future of the NHS and the protection of public health. We will also be looking to work with the Government to outline our own vision for pharmacy, ensuring that we are masters of our own destiny and that our patients receive the best care possible.”
5 July 2016, NPA
Commenting on Alistair Burt’s resignation as Minister for Health today, NPA chairman Ian Strachan said:
“Alistair Burt’s departure presents an opportunity for everyone to draw breath, and to pause and reflect on the government’s proposals for community pharmacies.
“Mr Burt’s successor should be given the opportunity to thoroughly review the Department of Health’s plans before any steps are taken towards implementation. He or she should also look carefully at the alternatives laid out by the pharmacy sector, and we look forward to a constructive, open-minded dialogue.”
“It’s surely time to go back to the drawing board. Officials should get around the table with pharmacists and patients to discuss, from first principles, a future in which the pharmacy sector is vibrant and efficient, and fulfilling its potential on the health service front line.”
Mr Burt told MPs during Health Questions in parliament today that he plans to stand down in September.
4 July 2016, pharmaphorum, Richard Staines
Brexit will allow UK pharma to rid itself of the bureaucracy of Europe’s drug regulation system and a culture that is failing to nurture innovation, according to one independent thinker.
The pharmaceutical industry in the UK, Europe and the US were more or less unanimous in backing the ‘Remain’ campaign, found themselves out of step with the majority of UK voters, 52% of whom backed leaving the European Union.
One of the few pro-Brexit voices within the industry has been Mike Rea, chief executive of ‘path-to-market’ consultancy IDEA Pharma. He says the UK should be prepared to take a short term economic hit in return for a more dynamic economy in the longer term.
Since the UK’s landmark vote to leave the EU, pharma and the business world have been coming to terms with the many uncertainties it has created.
As widely reported, Brexit will involve the government invoking article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, a legal step never taken before.
Following this there will be a series of negotiations with the EU, many of which will affect pharma industry. A major issue is whether the UK will remain part of the European drugs regulation system, and whether the European Medicines Agency will stay in London.
Rea, whose company specialises in getting mid-stage products to market, argued that the UK take the opportunity to cut drug regulation red tape.
The US is faster at approving drugs and too many medicines are failing to make it through the European system. Brexit could lead to a less bureacratic system, said Rea, perhaps by using other countries, either in the EU or outside, as a reference.
“We are losing quite a lot of drugs for a number of reasons in Europe. Lots of them are not made public because decisions are taken in the pipeline,” he said.
He put forward the argument made by businesses and politicians backing Leave that the UK should seek to build trading relationships with the rest of the world, noting that there is low economic growth rate across much of Europe.
Rea said: “If we do the right thing we should be able to become more of a global player than a member of a trading block.”
“The outlook for the UK biotech industry is still very strong. There will be a period of instability while people figure whether they want to invest,” he added.
Another major concern is the future of science projects that are EU-funded, which are already coming into question amid rumours that money from the 80 billion euro Horizon 2020 pot could be pulled from the UK.
UK science minister Jo Johnson has already raised concerns about this – but Rea said that in the long term biotechs should look to the pharma industry, rather than the EU, for cash to kick-start projects.
He said: “The question is whether chasing government funding is a healthy situation for anyone to find themselves in.
“The pharma companies are good at deciding how to spend their money. We have seen next to no good from publicly funded research, very little has made it to market.”
Life Sciences minister George Freeman is to convene a special Brexit taskforce this week to help minimise the uncertainty for business and create a plan for the life sciences sector.
One significant initiative already announced to help counteract concerns about the UK’s attractiveness is Chancellor George Osborne’s plan to cut corporation tax to just 15%. This is 5% lower than the current 20% rate, and would give the UK the lowest corporation tax of any major economy.
However the challenge of the UK retaining as much access as possible to the EU single market against wished-for restrictions on immigration is the big question – any progress towards negotiation must wait for the Conservative party to appoint a new leader and prime minister.
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