Brexit: Statement updated

24 December 2020

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Brexit Trade Deal Announced

It has recently been announced that the UK and the EU have reached a trade deal which will be in place from 1st January 2021.

We will begin to assess the implications of the deal for people with Crohn’s and colitis over the coming days and update this site as soon as possible in January. 

Brexit Trade Deal Announced

We will begin to assess the implications of the deal for people with Crohn’s and Colitis over the coming days and update this site as soon as possible in January. However, there is an expectation that any such deal will have included the pharmaceutical industry and hence this should lessen the chances of significant interruption to supplies of medication between the UK and Europe.

Whatever the exact contents of the deal, however, there will be a range of new compliance and customs requirements with which both importers and exporters will have to familiarise themselves post Jan 1st 2021.  These arrangements may take some time to bed in and hence we will be closely monitoring the situation in relation to supplies of medication on an ongoing basis.

What is happening?

You may have heard lots of discussion in the media about the potential impact of a no deal EU exit on the NHS and access to medicines. To help make things clearer, we’ve pulled together the most recent advice from the Government and an update on our response to Brexit.   

What is the Government doing?

Since 2018 the Government has been working closely with the NHS, pharmaceutical companies, suppliers of medical devices, and supply chains to make sure medicine and medical projects continue to be available in the event of a no deal EU exit.  

They have issued guidance to providers and suppliers to increase their medicines stocks by at least 6 weeks on top of their usual buffer stocks, where possible, and have stated that the stock of medical devices will be increased on a national level.   

The Government has Express Freight Service (EFS) arrangements with 3 specialist logistics companies to support the urgent movement of medicines and medical products to patients, and those who provide care, such as the NHS and care homes if other measures experience difficulties.  

The Government is also seeking to ensure the same healthcare cover that is currently provided through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).    

In the event that EU-wide agreement on this healthcare cover has not been reached, the Government will implement a time-limited healthcare scheme that supports UK residents. If UK residents are visiting the European Economic Area (the EU members plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), or Switzerland from 1 January to 31 December 2021 they will have help with ongoing, routine treatment needs. 

Further guidance and eligibility will be published by the Government.  

Find out more information

What this means for you

You should continue to order and collect your prescription in a timely manner and take the correct dose of your medicine.   

The Department of Health and Social Care’s advice to patients is to keep ordering repeat prescriptions and taking medicines as normal. They advise against ordering extra medications or stockpiling medications.   

If you are worried about a particular medicine, please speak to your doctor or pharmacist. They will be able to advise as best they can and offer information on substitution if appropriate to your needs.  

If you’re on a trip to Europe that starts before 1 January, you’ll be able to keep using your UK-issued EHIC until the trip ends. 

Some people can apply for a new UK EHIC that they can continue to use from 1 January 2021. People who can apply for the new card include: 

  • UK students studying in the EU
  • Some British State Pensioners who live in the EU and their families
  • EU nationals in the UK 

Full NHS guidance and frequently asked questions

What we are doing

Crohn’s & Colitis UK is a politically neutral organisation, and we do not take a position on whether the UK should remain or leave our current EU arrangements.  

Concerns around the supply of medications, staffing levels and future of research and regulation have been raised. 

Through our membership of National VoicesHealth and Social Care Alliance Scotland and the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), the sector is working to ensure that research, access to medicines and the treatment of patients are given the prominence and attention they deserve in negotiations. We believe that this collaborative approach is currently the most effective and impactful way of raising shared concerns.   

If you have any concerns 

If you are worried about the supply of your medicines, please speak to your doctor for more information. You can also raise your concerns with your local MP.