HDA UK Media And Political Bulletin – 25 January 2018

Media and Political Bulletin

25 January 2018

Media Summary

Risk of medicine supply disruption if Brexit talks fail, Hunt says

P3 Pharmacy, 24 January 2018

 

P3 Pharmacy reports that Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted yesterday in his appearance before the Health Select Committee inquiry on Brexit, that a breakdown in talks between the UK and the EU could lead to a “uniquely damaging” scenario in which the supply of critically important drugs such as cancer treatments is disrupted.

Mr Hunt was speaking at a hearing whose purpose was to ascertain what analysis he has made of Brexit’s potential impact on the life sciences industry and patients, and what preparations he has put in place to offset any risk.

P3 reported back in October on the Healthcare Distribution Association’s concerns around Brexit’s possible effects on the medicines supply chain. The publication outlined the HDA’s view on possible outcomes in which new customs and tariffs disrupt the “timely and cost-effective supply of medicines for patients”. P3 Pharmacy also reiterated the HDA’s call for the government to “urgently agree” a transitional arrangement with the EU.

 

Parliamentary Coverage

 

A full summary of Jeremy Hunt’s appearance before the Health Select Committee’s inquiry on Brexit yesterday is available to view on the HDA website. To view this summary, please follow this link.

 

Full Coverage

Risk of medicine supply disruption if Brexit talks fail, Hunt says

P3 Pharmacy, 24 January 2018

 

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted that a breakdown in talks between the UK and the EU could lead to a “uniquely damaging” scenario in which the supply of critically important drugs such as cancer treatments is disrupted.

Mr Hunt was speaking before the Health Select Committee at a hearing whose purpose was to ascertain what analysis he has made of Brexit’s potential impact on the life sciences industry and patients, and what preparations he has put in place to offset risk.

P3 reported back in October on the Healthcare Distribution Association’s concerns around Brexit’s possible effects on the medicines supply chain. The HDA outlined possible outcomes in which new customs and tariffs disrupt the “timely and cost-effective supply of medicines for patients”. It called for the government to “urgently agree” a transitional arrangement with the EU.

‘Not just the UK that could be affected’

Mr Hunt speaking to the Select Committee

Mr Hunt told the Health Select Committee that the government was “very encouraged” by progress made on securing a transitional period post-Brexit during which the UK’s ties to EU bodies remain in place. He said the government hopes the transitional agreement “could be concluded potentially by the end of March, but it may take a little bit longer than that”.

“It would be patently against our national interest to make it harder to import life-saving drugs,” the health secretary said, adding that he was “pretty confident we would not see a scenario under any of the different Brexit scenarios where that actually happened”.

Commenting on the risk posed by any breakdown in Brexit talks, Mr Hunt said: “It’s not just that we want to continue to get cancer drugs that are manufactured in Europe. It’s Europeans who will not want any interruption to their supply chain for drugs that are manufactured in this country.”

“It is uniquely damaging to both parties if we don’t come to an agreement.”

Health and care workforce concerns

When questioned by a Select Committee member on whether health and social care issues are being addressed within Brexit negotiations, Mr Hunt said they are, commenting that “Brexit has been a catalyst for thinking much more strategically about the health and social care workforce”.

“Whatever one’s views about Brexit, I think when we were going to be staying in the EU, we took false comfort from the fact that if we didn’t train enough doctors and nurses we were always going to be able to import them from another European country. That was never going to be a sustainable position whether or not we stayed in the EU because we’re not the only country in Europe to have an ageing population.”

‘A million more over-75s in 10 years’

Asked if there needs to be a conversation around what the public expects from the NHS and whether expectations need to be managed, Mr Hunt said that “we need to have that mature conversation” but that the conversation “has never been about reducing the scope of availability and access to the superb services offered by the NHS and the need to continue to offer high quality services through the social care system.”

However, the health secretary said, “we are going to have to recognise that in a decade’s time we’ll have a million more over-75s and that’s going to require substantial additional investment if we’re going to make sure that every older person is treated with dignity and respect.”

Media and Political Bulletin

24 January 2018

Media Summary

Jeremy Hunt Appears To Hint Government Net Migration Target May Be Scrapped

Huffington Post, Kate Forrester, 23 January 2018

The Huffington Post reports that during his appearance before the Health Select Committee, Jeremy Hunt appeared to hint that the government may scrap or scale back its net migration target to help the NHS cope post-Brexit.

When quizzed by members of the committee on Tuesday about the potential impact of reduced numbers of European workers working for the health service, Hunt said he had spoken directly with home secretary Amber Rudd and was confident its needs would be met.

“I don’t want to talk about how this would feed into the overall numbers, but I do want to reassure the committee I am totally confident that the Home Office would be very sympathetic to any proposals made by the Department of Health and Social Care about what we will need in terms of immigration for the health and social care system,” he said.

Hunt says Britain should not have to follow EU regulations after Brexit as we ‘cannot be rule takers and not makers’ as he admits a transition deal may not be done by March

The Daily Mail, Kate Ferguson, 23 January 2018

The Daily Mail highlights that, during his evidence session in front of the Health Select Committee, Jeremy Hunt insisted that the NHS must not be expected to have EU rules imposed on it after Brexit. The Health Secretary said Brussels must not expect the UK to be ‘rule takers and not rule makers’ by having health and medicines regulations imposed on the UK.

Although, Mr Hunt went on to say that Britain will probably choose to keep close regulatory alignment with the bloc after March 2019.

He also admitted that the proposed two-year Brexit transition deal may not be agreed by March this year, as the Prime Minister, Theresa May hopes.

Parliamentary Coverage

UK health secretary confident government will secure Brexit transition

Politico, Shirley Wang, 24 January 2018

U.K. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt sought to reassure MPs yesterday about Brexit contingency planning, during his appearance in front of the Health Select Committee’s inquiry on Brexit. During his evidence, he repeatedly emphasised the aspects where the nation has more control over what happens following its departure from the EU.

Mr Hunt, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary James O’Shaughnessy and Ian Hudson, chief executive of the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), all declined to give specifics about no-deal contingency planning for the life science industry. However, Mr Hunt told the committee that the reason for his imprecision wasn’t lack of transparency but rather to maintain “strategic ambiguity” so that the U.K. government could procure the best deal possible with the EU.

The government is pressing for a transition deal as soon as possible — industry has asked for a period of at least two years beyond the departure date — because it recognizes “the value of a transition deal shrinks the closer you get closer to [the exit date of] March 2019,” said Hunt.

When asked how to ensure the life sciences industry thrives in the U.K. post-Brexit, Hunt said the biggest issues weren’t about access to the single market or trade, but about continuing to make sure that the U.K. would produce new medicines and medical devices.

“What I think the most important thing in the long run is our science base,” Hunt told MPs. “We must make sure that continues.”

He reiterated that the U.K. would like to cooperate with the European Medicines Agency and establish closely aligned regulations post-Brexit. Cooperation is in the interest of both British and European patients, and it is this “reciprocity of need” along with the agreement reached during Phase I negotiations in December that “gives me a lot of confidence we will be able to ultimately agree to” a deal, said Hunt.

Full Coverage

 Jeremy Hunt Appears To Hint Government Net Migration Target May Be Scrapped

Huffington Post, Kate Forrester, 23 January 2018

Jeremy Hunt has appeared to hint the government may scrap or scale back its net migration target to help the NHS cope post-Brexit.

Quizzed by members of the health select committee on Tuesday about the potential impact of reduced numbers of European workers on the health service, Hunt said he had spoken directly with home secretary Amber Rudd and was confident its needs would be met.

“I don’t want to talk about how this would feed into the overall numbers, but I do want to reassure the committee I am totally confident that the Home Office would be very sympathetic to any proposals made by the Department of Health and Social Care about what we will need in terms of immigration for the health and social care system,” he said.

“I know they see it as a big priority.”

 Labour MP and committee member Ben Bradshaw said he interpreted Hunt’s comments as a hint Theresa May’s flagship pledge to cut net migration to below 100,000 a year could be “on the way out”.

He said: “You seem to be implying, then, that Brexit means the government is in effect going to have to abandon its target if the health and social care sector is going to survive.”

The health secretary then claimed he said “exactly the opposite”, confirming the government was committed to the target “because that was a key message from the [EU] referendum”.

Bradshaw said the specific needs of all sectors impacted by Brexit could not be achieved within a net migration target of just tens of thousands per year.

“Everybody is making the same argument for their own sectors…they all need migrant labour,” the Exeter MP added.

“It’s not going to stack up to tens of thousands, is it?”

After the committee, he told HuffPost UK: “Jeremy Hunt appeared to acknowledge that the government will have to abandon its immigration targets if it’s to solve the staffing crisis in health and social care caused partly by Brexit.

“This further exposes the nonsense of the government’s obsession with leaving the single market and customs union.”

Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show earlier this month, then-immigration minister Brandon Lewis said the government “remained committed” to the initial target set out by the prime minister.

Hunt says Britain should not have to follow EU regulations after Brexit as we ‘cannot be rule takers and not makers’ as he admits a transition deal may not be done by March

The Daily Mail, Kate Ferguson, 23 January 2018

Jeremy Hunt today insisted that the NHS must not be expected to have EU rules on it imposed after Brexit.

The Health Secretary said Brussels must not expect the UK to be ‘rule takers and not rule makers’ by having health and medicines regulations imposed on us.

Although he said that Britain will probably choose to keep close regulatory alignment with the bloc after we leave.

He also admitted that our proposed two-year Brexit transition deal may not be fully thrashed out by March this year, as the PM hopes.

Speaking to the health select committee today, Mr Hunt said the millions of Britons who voted Leave expect the UK to free itself from the rulings of EU judges.

And he backed Boris Johnson’s call for extra spending on the NHS after Brexit – despite claims the Foreign Secretary was ‘bitch slapped twice’ by Theresa May in Cabinet this morning for going public with his demand.

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Brussels must not expect the UK to be ‘rule takers and not rule makers’ by having health and medicines regulations imposed on us.

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Brussels must not expect the UK to be ‘rule takers and not rule makers’ by having health and medicines regulations imposed on us.

Mr Johnson was told off in Cabinet this morning for breaking ministerial rules and going public with his demand for another £100m a week for health after Brexit.

Hours after the extraordinary row, Mr Hunt faced a grilling by the health select committee about the NHS and Brexit.

And in a move that could put pressure on Mrs May to boost NHS spending, Mr Hunt told them: ‘I don’t think any health secretary is ever going to not support potential extra resources for his or her department.’

He also made it plain that he believes Britain must not be given orders from Brussels abut healthcare regulation after Brexit.

He said: ‘The reason we are not staying in the single market and customs union is that we don’t think that would ultimately be compatible with what the British people voted for.

‘That is our view – that being subject to ECJ (European Court of Justice) rulings – which is what staying in the single market would mean – but not being able to influence those rules, so being a rule taker not a rule maker, is something that many people in the 52 per cent who voted Leave would find totally unacceptable.’

He said he has no problem with Britain remaining closely aligned with the remaining 27 member states on regulations.

But he warned these rules must not be allowed to be automatically imposed by Brussels.

He said: ‘I think the issue is the legal underpinnings.

‘So if that regulatory alignment is agreed between two sovereign powers – the EU and the UK – with an international arbitration mechanism… then I think that is completely acceptable I think that’s the kind of relationship which could work very well.

Boris Johnson was ‘bitch slapped twice’ by Theresa May after his public demand for more cash for the NHS, it has been claimed. he was giving a ticking off by the PM after making an extraordinary public demand for a £100m a week Brexit HS dividend

‘What I think is difficult to square with my view of what people voted for would be an arrangement where we were obliged to change our regulations in response to a unilateral change o regulations made by the EU going forward.

‘I don’t think that would be compatible with having control of our own destiny.’

‘We can have close regulator alignment outside the single market.’

Mr Hunt was quizzed by MPs on the select committee about what the impact of Brexit will be on the health sector.

During the grilling he admitted that a Brexit transition deal may not be signed off with the EU by March this year – despite Mrs May’s big push to get it done by then.

He said: ‘The reality is these things have to be negotiated. These things have to be negotiated with the EU.

‘The truth is we have made it very clear that we want a transition deal, that was agreed with the EU in December in I think a pretty important moment in negotiations.

‘But it was also said that as we move on to discussions on the future relationship there is going to be i’s that need to be dotted and t’s that need to be crossed in terms of how that transitional deal will work.’

From Factory to Pharmacy

As part of our mission to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of the healthcare distribution sector, we developed an infographic explaining the availability of medicines. It identifies the factors that can impact drug supply, as well as the measures that HDA members undertake day in, day out to help mitigate the risks of patients not receiving their medicines.

See the Infographic

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