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Media and Political Bulletin – 20 July 2020

Media and Political Bulletin

20 July 2020

Media Summary

Brexit: Hundreds of health professionals sign open letter demanding protection for NHS in trade deals

The Independent, Andrew Woodcock, 18 July 2020

The Independent reports that more than 400 NHS and public health professionals have signed an open letter demanding legal guarantees in post-Brexit trade legislation currently going through parliament to provide specific protections for the health service in any future negotiations with countries such as the US.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly stated that the NHS is not on the table in trade negotiations with the US, though secret documents revealed last year by Labour showed that American negotiators had made clear their ambition to secure concessions on drug patents and access to health markets.

Former health minister Jackie Doyle-Price elected as chair of All-Party Pharmacy Group

Pharmacy Business, Pri Mandav, 17 July 2020

Pharmacy Business reports that former minister of state for health Jackie Doyle-Price MP has been elected chair of the All-Party Pharmacy Group.

A former civil servant and Conservative Party member, Doyle-Price has served as MP for Thurrock since 2010 and was under-secretary of state for mental health and sucide prevention in Theresa May’s government.

The newly elected group will be exploring how community pharmacy can help relieve pressures on other parts of the health service as the NHS tackles health challenges including Covid-19 and winter pressures.

UK builds up Covid-19 medicines stockpile in case of second wave

Financial Times, Sarah Neville, 16 July 2020

The Financial Times reports that the UK government is building a medicines stockpile worth almost £100 million to boost supplies of vital drugs ahead of a potential second wave of coronavirus. A notice seen by the Financial Times lists 46 different medicines, spanning drugs used in intensive care and for end-of-life patients, as well as antibiotics.

Richard Torbett, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said, it was “quite appropriate”, for the UK Government “to plan for the worst case and introduce additional resilience to the supply of some of the most clinically critical medicines”.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “As the public would rightly expect, we are doing everything we can to prepare for all scenarios and protect NHS patients. This includes building a stockpile of crucial medicines used to treat Covid-19 patients as a sensible precautionary step, to help ensure there is an uninterrupted supply over the coming months.”

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

Full Coverage

Brexit: Hundreds of health professionals sign open letter demanding protection for NHS in trade deals

The Independent, Andrew Woodcock, 18 July 2020

More than 400 NHS and public health professionals have signed an open letter demanding legal guarantees in post-Brexit trade legislation currently going through parliament to provide specific protections for the health service in any future negotiations with countries such as the US.

Signatories – who include the president of the Faculty of Public Health, Maggie Rae, and former World Health Organisation director Anthony Costello – warned that without amendments the government’s Trade Bill would put the NHS “on the table in future trade deals”.

Unless explicitly excluded, the NHS will be automatically included in trade negotiations, exposing the UK healthcare system to “unavoidable and irreversible marketisation”, they warned.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly stated that the NHS is not on the table in trade negotiations with the US, though secret documents revealed last year by Labour showed that American negotiators had made clear their ambition to secure concessions on drug patents and access to health markets.

The Trade Bill completes its passage through the House of Commons on Monday, with MPs due to vote on amendments tabled by Labour leader Keir Starmer and SNP trade spokesperson Stewart Hosie to protect the NHS in negotiations, as well as a separate bid by Tory Jonathan Djanogly to give parliament the right to scrutinise and vote on any trade deal before it is signed.

The 400 health workers, who include frontline hospital doctors, nurses and GPs as well as more than 40 professors and the president of the Medical Women’s Federation, Neena Modi, warned that a free trade deal with the US would risk reducing access to medications, compromising the safe storage of NHS data and undermining the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

Unless MPs pass legal guarantees that the NHS is to be exempted, the UK could be exposed to the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, which allows a company to sue a government for threatening their profits by imposing barriers to trade, said the letter.

“Protecting the NHS from trade deals has public support,” the signatories said, pointing to recent polls suggesting 84 per cent of voters want the NHS to remain fully public.

“In last year’s elections, all major political parties pledged to protect the NHS. To fulfil their promise, we ask politicians to support amendments to the Trade Bill to mandate adequate scrutiny of all trade deals and to provide explicit protection to the NHS in future trade deals.”

Dr Sarah Walpole, a junior doctor who wrote the letter, said: “In the UK, we take it for granted that we won’t go bankrupt paying for medical treatment. Covid-19 has shown us the importance of healthcare being accessible to all, and the value of our NHS and public health system.

“The Trade Bill in its current form leads the way towards ongoing fragmentation and marketisation of UK health services and higher drug prices, a path which the NHS may not survive. If services are contracted out to private companies through trade deals, this may be irreversible due to international law.

The letter was backed by pro-public ownership pressure group We Own It, whose director Cat Hobbs said: “Boris Johnson’s warm words aren’t enough. We can’t wish away the threat that trade deals pose to our NHS.

“Instead, what we need is concrete protection. To make matters worse, right now we not only don’t have this protection, but parliament isn’t being given the most basic powers of scrutiny on trade deals. That means neither MPs, nor the public will be able to see what is being included, and how our NHS will be affected.

“MPs debating the Trade Bill must listen to the public and stand up for our treasured NHS. At the very least, they must back Jonathan Djanogly’s amendment to allow parliament to scrutinise future trade deals. If they don’t, their constituents won’t forgive, and they won’t forget.”

Former health minister Jackie Doyle-Price elected as chair of All-Party Pharmacy Group

Pharmacy Business, Pri Mandav, 17 July 2020

Former minister of state for health Jackie Doyle-Price MP has been elected chair of the All-Party Pharmacy Group.

A former civil servant and Conservative Party member, Doyle-Price has served as MP for Thurrock since 2010 and was under-secretary of state for mental health and sucide prevention in Theresa May’s government.

The election of Jackie Doyle-Price and eight other officers took place at the APPG’s inaugural meeting on Tuesday (July 14) where attendees also discussed the role of community pharmacy in the next phase of the response to Covid-19.

The newly elected group will be exploring how community pharmacy can help relieve pressures on other parts of the health service as the NHS tackles health challenges including Covid-19 and winter pressures.

It will also be looking at the potential of digital technology in pharmacy as well as the integral role of community pharmacy in supporting people to manage their own health.

“The current challenges caused by Covid-19 have reinforced the critical role that community pharmacies play across the UK as the third pillar of our national health service alongside GPs and A&E,” Doyle-Price said, following her election as chair of the group.

“Beyond just dispensing medicines, pharmacies are many people’s first point of contact with the NHS, providing vital services to keep people healthy.

“In the year ahead, I am looking forward to exploring new opportunities to strengthen the role of pharmacists in the health system, capitalising on their clinical expertise to reduce pressures on GPs and hospitals and support the prevention of ill-health.

“The All-Party Pharmacy Group is preparing a fantastic programme of work and I look forward to working with colleagues across both Houses to support the pharmacy sector at this crucial time for the NHS.”

In a joint statement the national pharmacy organisations that support the APPG said: “We are delighted that the APPG will continue its important work in parliament and we look forward to supporting Jackie Doyle-Price MP and the members of the APPG to broaden the conversation in Parliament of the vital role that pharmacy plays in helping to alleviate pressures on the NHS.

“The NHS has committed to making greater use of pharmacists and we have already seen them taking on greater responsibilities for helping patients and reducing pressures on GPs. Alongside opportunities to support the NHS there are also challenges to explore and overcome, including sustainable funding and embracing new ways of working. We are keen to work with the APPG to facilitate a discussion of how to ensure we capitalise on the value of pharmacy to the benefit of patients and the NHS.”

The APPG is supported with funding from the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, the Company Chemists’ Association, the National Pharmacy Association, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Other officers elected to the group were: Sir David Amess MP, Paul Bristow MP, Feryal Clark MP, Jason McCartney MP, Taiwo Owatemi MP, Julian Sturdy MP, Lord Clement-Jone and Baroness Cumberlege.

UK builds up Covid-19 medicines stockpile in case of second wave

Financial Times, Sarah Neville, 16 July 2020

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Media and Political Bulletin – 20 July 2020

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