As the UK moves into negotiations with the EU, a new alliance has been formed to safeguard the interests of patients and the healthcare and research they rely on.

Sir Hugh Taylor, the former permanent secretary of the Department of Health, and Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation will co-chair the Brexit Health Alliance.

The new group aims to bring together the NHS, medical research, industry, patients and public health organisations. And will seek to ensure issues such as healthcare research, access to technologies and treatment of patients are given prominence and attention in the Brexit negotiations.

The Brexit Health Alliance, which was announced at NHS Confed ’17 on Wednesday, 14 June, will argue that it is in both Europe and the UK’s interests to maintain co-operation in research and in handling public health issues.

Taylor said they wish to support the government to achieve the best result for patients and for healthcare across the UK.

“We hope that the combined expertise and insight of the alliance will prove useful in helping to secure this”, Taylor said.

“Our aim will be to ensure a strong focus on health as Brexit approaches, and that we offer views from across the health sector to negotiators to ensure that patient care and the population’s health and well-being will be protected as we leave the EU.”

The Alliance will also call on the UK government to make sure there is a commitment to medical research and providing alternative funding, and that UK citizens’ right to receive healthcare in EU countries is preserved.

Dickson, who gave his first keynote address as chief executive at Confed, said when it comes to the NHS we have to stop launching the lifeguard and start fixing the ship.

He said the government will have to work differently… and the three fundamental challenges are money, transformation and workforce.

“With money, we currently don’t have the resources to deliver what the country expects…”

In a press statement, he said there is a risk that healthcare will become forgotten alongside the vast number of issues that the negotiators will have to address.

“It is vital we protect world leading research, that patients have access to medicines when they need them and that co-operation between the UK and Europe continues to protect all our citizens”, Dickson said.

“These vital issues will have a profound impact on the future health and wellbeing of patients both here and in Europe.”

Brexit Health Alliance founding members:

  • NHS Confederation – Co-chair of alliance
  • Welsh NHS Confederation
  • Northern Ireland Confederation (NICON)
  • Association of UK University Hospitals (AUKUH)
  • Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AOMRC)
  • NHS Providers
  • National Voices
  • Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)
  • Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI)
  • The Richmond Group of Charities
  • BioIndustry Association (BIA)
  • Faculty of Public Health (FPH)
  • Association of Medical Research Charities – (AMRC)
  • Scottish NHS Chief Executive Group