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Media And Political Bulletin – 15 August 2019

Media and Political Bulletin

15 August 2019

Media Summary

Industry and pharmacy bodies confirm signing government ‘gagging orders’ over no-deal Brexit plans

The Pharmaceutical Journal, Carolyn Wickware, 14 August 2019

The Pharmaceutical Journal reports that the Department of Health and Social Care says non-disclosure agreements have been signed “to protect the commercial interest of the government and its suppliers”.

The PSNC, BGMA, HDA and ABPI have now confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal that they are among other representative bodies to have signed these agreements preventing them from disclosing the UK government’s plans for a no-deal Brexit.

Martin Sawer said the no-deal Brexit planning discussions had to be held “in confidence because people then feel more comfortable discussing some scenarios and hypothetical situations, and it’s not all being held down and recorded”.

He added that the NDAs were signed by “all parts of the supply chain on the industry side” early in 2018, when the no-deal planning group was set up, “to enable government to float ideas … and we would respond to those ideas so the government would hopefully get the best possible advice and make the right decisions”.

UK throws veil of secrecy over no-deal Brexit plan

The Pharma Letter, 14 August 2019

The Pharma Letter reports that as the UK begins to make more extensive plans for an abrupt departure from the European Union, the country’s health ministry has confirmed that a number of pharma groups have signed non-disclosure agreements (NDA) concerning the preparations.

Pharma bodies such as the PSNC, BGMA, HDA and ABPI have now agreed to keep secret their ongoing work with the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

A DHSC spokesperson said: “As part of any standard contract, in government or the private sector, we use these clauses to protect the commercial interests of government and its suppliers in a reasonable way.”

“By signing NDAs, the department can talk to the industry in confidence prior to making public statements and issuing advice. This means that when we go out to the whole industry we can be confident that any requests are clear, appropriate and deliverable.”

New service to deliver urgent medicines and medical products into UK

Department of Health and Social Care, 15 August 2019

The Department of Health and Social Care is strengthening its Brexit preparations with a £25 million contract to set up an express freight service to deliver medicines and medical products into the country.

The department is leading a procurement exercise for an express freight service as part of the government’s plans to support continuity of supply when the UK leaves the EU on 31 October.

The service is intended to deliver small parcels of medicines or medical products on a 24-hour basis, with additional provision to move larger pallet quantities on a 2- to 4-day basis. The service will be available to the whole of the UK.

While the majority of goods will be standard medicines and medical products, the express freight service can also deliver temperature-controlled products if needed.

The contract will run for 12 months, with a possible further 12-month extension.

This was reported on in the Financial TimesThe TelegraphThe Daily MailITV NewsThe Sun, and Dispensing Doctors’ Association.

Get ready to charge EU citizens under no-deal Brexit, NHS bosses told

The Times, Oliver Wright, 14 August 2019

The Times reports that EU citizens living in Britain will have to prove their right to free NHS care under a no-deal Brexit as part of new rules circulated to hospital managers.

In a directive to the NHS, the Department of Health said that trusts needed to prepare to charge EU citizens who had previously been eligible for free treatment “immediately after exit day”, which is scheduled for October 31.

But with only one million of the three million EU citizens living in Britain registered under the “settled status” programme, the move has led to accusations that ministers are creating a new “hostile environment” for immigrants.

This was also reported in The Daily MailThe IndependentThe Daily Express, and The Sun.

Jo Churchill appointed as new pharmacy minister

Chemist+Druggist, Eliza Slawther, 14 August 2019

Chemist+Druggist reports that Jo Churchill was appointed parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) on July 26, following a cabinet reshuffle by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson which saw previous pharmacy minister Seema Kennedy moved to the Home Office.

The DH confirmed that Ms Churchill – who has been MP for Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk since 2015 – will be responsible for pharmacy as part of her new prevention, public health and primary care role. She previously held the role of assistant government whip from January 2018 to July 2019.

In a 2017 parliamentary debate about pharmacy and integrated healthcare in England, Ms Churchill said the British public “need to be made more aware of what pharmacies can do and how they can help people keep healthy”.

Ms Churchill was among 305 MPs who voted in favour of the pharmacy funding cuts in England in 2016. Only one Conservative MP voted against the cuts.

 

 

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

 

Full Coverage

Industry and pharmacy bodies confirm signing government ‘gagging orders’ over no-deal Brexit plans

The Pharmaceutical Journal, Carolyn Wickware, 14 August 2019

Exclusive: The Department of Health and Social Care says non-disclosure agreements have been signed “to protect the commercial interest of the government and its suppliers”.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is one of several pharmacy bodies to have signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) preventing them from disclosing the UK government’s plans for a no-deal Brexit.

The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA), the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) have also confirmed that they have signed NDAs issued by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

A spokesperson for the DHSC said the NDAs are used “to protect the commercial interests of the government and its suppliers”.

However, Warwick Smith, director general of the BGMA, said the agreements were hindering his organisation’s ability to give guidance to its own members.

In October 2018, the DHSC revealed that it had requested “a number of pharmaceutical industry representative bodies and manufacturers sign” NDAs so that advice then given to the whole industry on no-deal Brexit plans is “clear, appropriate and deliverable”.

The PSNC, BGMA, HDA and ABPI have now confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal that they are among other representative bodies to have signed these agreements.

But Warwick Smith, director general of the BGMA, criticised the government for publishing “lots of propaganda” when it “needs to be much more open about its planning assumptions”.

“Whilst those of us who have signed those infamous NDAs have a very good idea of what is going on, companies generally are not aware of the detail — there is an information gap and we need facts,” he added.

“We know a lot more than we’re allowed to tell our members,” he added.

“We are trying to give guidance to the members under [an NDA] so we can’t be fully open.”

However, Martin Sawer, executive director for the HDA, said the no-deal Brexit planning discussions had to be held “in confidence because people then feel more comfortable discussing some scenarios and hypothetical situations, and it’s not all being held down and recorded”.

He added that the NDAs were signed by “all parts of the supply chain on the industry side” early in 2018, when the no-deal planning group was set up, “to enable government to float ideas … and we would respond to those ideas so the government would hopefully get the best possible advice and make the right decisions”.

A spokesperson for the PSNC told The Pharmaceutical Journal that it signed an NDA “so that we could fully assist the DHSC in its contingency planning for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit”.

A spokesperson for the ABPI added: “Given the complexity of this planning — including commercially sensitive information shared between government and industry — an NDA was agreed to support effective planning for continued medicines supply in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”

“As part of any standard contract, in government or the private sector, we use these clauses to protect the commercial interests of government and its suppliers in a reasonable way,” a spokesperson for the DHSC said.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said has not signed a government NDA relating to no-deal Brexit preparations.

UK throws veil of secrecy over no-deal Brexit plan

The Pharma Letter, 14 August 2019

As the UK begins to make more extensive plans for an abrupt departure from the European Union, the country’s health ministry has confirmed that a number of pharma groups have signed non-disclosure agreements (NDA) concerning the preparations.

A so-called “no-deal Brexit” is widely believed to be more likely following the installment of hardliner Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson has said that the UK is “getting ready to come out on October the 31st, come what may,” and an additional £434 million ($523 million) has been made available to facilitate the importation of vital medicines in that eventuality.

Pharma bodies such as The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) have now agreed to keep secret its ongoing work with the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

ABPI chief executive Mike Thompson said: “Given the complexity of this planning – including commercially sensitive information shared between Government and Industry – an NDA was agreed,” adding that “securing a deal remains the best way to protect patients and public health.”

Other groups reported to have agreed to gagging orders include the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA) and the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA).

A DHSC spokesperson said: “As part of any standard contract, in government or the private sector, we use these clauses to protect the commercial interests of government and its suppliers in a reasonable way.”

“By signing NDAs, the department can talk to the industry in confidence prior to making public statements and issuing advice. This means that when we go out to the whole industry we can be confident that any requests are clear, appropriate and deliverable.”

New service to deliver urgent medicines and medical products into UK

Department of Health and Social Care, 15 August 2019

The Department of Health and Social Care is strengthening its Brexit preparations with a £25 million contract to set up an express freight service to deliver medicines and medical products into the country.

The department is leading a procurement exercise for an express freight service as part of the government’s plans to support continuity of supply when the UK leaves the EU on 31 October.

The service is intended to deliver small parcels of medicines or medical products on a 24-hour basis, with additional provision to move larger pallet quantities on a 2- to 4-day basis. The service will be available to the whole of the UK.

While the majority of goods will be standard medicines and medical products, the express freight service can also deliver temperature-controlled products if needed.

The contract will run for 12 months, with a possible further 12-month extension.

The contract notice has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union and potential bidders have until 21 August to submit proposals. The successful provider(s) are expected to be announced in September.

The taxpayer will only be liable for up to around £4 million of the total value of the contract, but it is expected to be much less than this.

The service will provide an additional level of contingency as part of necessary preparations to leave the EU on 31 October whatever the circumstances, supported by an additional £2 billion from the Treasury across government.

This money includes £434 million to help ensure continuity of vital medicines and medical products through freight capacity, warehousing and stockpiling.

The new service will support existing plans already in place, including:

  • building buffer stocks of medicines and medical products
  • changing or clarifying regulatory requirements so that companies can continue to sell their products in the UK if we have no deal
  • strengthening the process and resources used to deal with shortages
  • procuring additional warehouse capacity
  • supporting companies to improve the readiness of their logistics and supply chains to meet the new customs and border requirements for both import and export

Health Minister Chris Skidmore said:

“I want to ensure that when we leave the EU at the end of October, all appropriate steps have been taken to ensure frontline services are fully prepared.

“That’s why we are stepping up preparations and strengthening our already extremely resilient contingency plans.

“This express freight service sends a clear message to the public that our plans should ensure supply of medical goods remains uninterrupted as we leave the EU.”

This was reported on in the Financial TimesThe TelegraphThe Daily MailITV NewsThe Sun, and Dispensing Doctors’ Association.

Get ready to charge EU citizens under no-deal Brexit, NHS bosses told

The Times, Oliver Wright, 14 August 2019

EU citizens living in Britain will have to prove their right to free NHS care under a no-deal Brexit as part of new rules circulated to hospital managers.

In a directive to the NHS the Department of Health said that trusts needed to prepare to charge EU citizens who had previously been eligible for free treatment “immediately after exit day”, which is scheduled for October 31.

With only one million of the three million EU citizens living in Britain registered under the “settled status” programme, the move has led to accusations that ministers are creating a new “hostile environment” for immigrants.

Representatives of doctors and citizens’ rights groups have said that the “poorly planned” measure would place new burdens on hospitals to carry out immigration checks on thousands of patients who might not easily be able to prove a right to free care.

The Department of Health has confirmed that the checks would take place. “EU citizens living lawfully in the UK on the day of Brexit will be able to continue to use the NHS as long as they can demonstrate that they live in the UK on a lawful and property settled basis,” a spokesperson said.

“Such a move is discriminatory and outrageous,” said Maike Bohn, co-founder of the3million group, which campaigns for the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. “The new guidance is creating a hostile environment for millions of EU nationals who have the right to free healthcare in the UK but won’t be able to prove it. This outrageous decision spells chaos as the two groups of EU citizens will be indistinguishable to the NHS and we are running the risk of people being denied vital treatment they are fully entitled to.”

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, said that the proposal was “another example of a chaotic, poorly planned result of a no-deal Brexit”. “This system would present hospitals with the mammoth task of determining where a patient was born, and, if they are from one of the 27 EU nations, whether they are eligible for free care,” he said. “With most people not carrying documentation to prove this — and the deadline to apply for settled status not until the end of December 2020 — it is a nigh-on impossible ask for any workforce, let alone overstretched NHS staff.”

The Conservative MP Alberto Costa, who has campaigned for the rights of British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in Britain, said: “In the referendum the Vote Leave campaign that is now running Downing Street pledged to protect the rights of EU citizens living in Britain. Making them have to prove their rights to use the NHS is injurious and a breach of that commitment.”

He added that it would have a knock-on effect on the more than one million British citizens living in the EU. “Such a move will make it harder to agree reciprocal healthcare arrangement to protect all citizens,” he said.

In March the government passed legislation that allowed ministers to strike reciprocal deals with EU member states that would allow citizens to be treated free of charge. Little progress has been made as this requires individual agreements with 27 countries.

If Britain leaves the EU without a deal the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) will not be valid for British citizens and they will be expected to pay for their hospital treatment abroad.

The guidance states that in the event of a no-deal Brexit EU citizens who move to or visit the UK will not be eligible for free healthcare. “In the absence of a reciprocal healthcare agreement with an EU country after exit day new visitors from that country to the UK will be chargeable at the standard NHS tariff,” it says.

In advice to trusts the document adds: “The changes to the charging regulations will come into force immediately after exit day if there is a no-deal Brexit. You should make sure that any changes to your operational practices are implemented from that point forward. You should work closely with your organisation’s senior responsible officer for Brexit preparation and their teams, to make sure that you are operationally ready to implement the new charging regulations after exit day.”

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said a no-deal Brexit would throw reciprocal healthcare arrangements “in the air” and that British holidaymakers and expats would “pay the price”. He added: “These arrangements allow patients with serious renal conditions to receive vital dialysis when in the EU. It’s simply not good enough for ministers to boast that they will be forcing hospitals to charge EU patients — they also now must be honest about what a no-deal Brexit means for UK citizens also.”

This was also reported in The Daily MailThe IndependentThe Daily Express, and The Sun.

Jo Churchill appointed as new pharmacy minister

Chemist+Druggist, Eliza Slawther, 14 August 2019

Jo Churchill is the new minister with responsibility for pharmacy, the government has confirmed.

Ms Churchill was appointed parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) on July 26, following a cabinet reshuffle by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson which saw previous pharmacy minister Seema Kennedy moved to the Home Office.

The DH confirmed this afternoon (August 14) that Ms Churchill – who has been MP for Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk since 2015 – will be responsible for pharmacy as part of her new prevention, public health and primary care role. She previously held the role of assistant government whip from January 2018 to July 2019.

Ms Churchill was among 305 MPs who voted in favour of the pharmacy funding cuts in England in 2016. Only one Conservative MP voted against the cuts.

Past support for pharmacies

In a 2017 parliamentary debate about pharmacy and integrated healthcare in England, Ms Churchill said the British public “need to be made more aware of what pharmacies can do and how they can help people keep healthy”.

Ms Churchill also said the term “pharmacy-first culture” is a “good motto for everybody to live by”, and added that pharmacies are “often not used to their full value”.

In particular, Ms Churchill wanted to show both the “crucial role of community pharmacies”, and the “competition they face from high street providers”, as quoted in an article published on her website following the debate.

“Our independent pharmacies provide us with choice, often with bespoke services aimed towards the needs of local communities,” she continued.

Ms Churchill added that she is a “great supporter” of pharmacies being a first port-of-call for minor ailments, and stressed the importance of local pharmacies in delivering a ”smoother running and a more joined-up healthcare system”.

Pharmacy tweets

Ms Churchill’s Twitter account shows evidence of her commitment to community pharmacy over recent years.

In 2017, she tweeted an image of herself visiting Croasdales Chemist, an independent pharmacy in her constituency, to receive her flu jab.

Other tweets relating to community pharmacy include Ms Churchill’s visits to a branch of Day Lewis and Elmswell Pharmacy.

Media And Political Bulletin – 15 August 2019

From Factory to Pharmacy

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