ABHI Membership

Brexit and our Sector: A Message from your Chair

I wanted to update you on ABHI’s activity around Brexit. You will be aware that in March last year we published Healthy Outside the EU, which served as both our substantive input to the government’s Industrial Strategy and our “manifesto” for Brexit. We updated the document in January this year and, whilst all our original recommendations remain valid, we have focused our energies on two areas, regulation and the movement of goods.

On regulation, the government has indicated for some time that its preferred option is to stay aligned to existing arrangements and intends to fully implement MDR as it falls in the proposed implementation / transition period. In the event of no deal, MHRA would, for a time limited period, continue to recognise CE marking, whilst it moved towards a new, sovereign system.

For the movement of goods, the government remains confident that a deal will be done that will ensure the frictionless movement of goods between the UK and the EU. Nonetheless a considerable amount of work has gone into contingency planning to ensure continuity of supply in the event of no deal. Last week, a delegation of Members met with officials from the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to discuss contingencies from both sides. This week, the DHSC, via NHS Supply Chain, has begun contacting suppliers who predominantly use this route to market. Contingencies involve a blend of assessing existing stockholding and increasing that held centrally such that a six week stockpile of key products exists. If you believe that you should be part of this process, but have not yet been contacted, please alert Richard Phillips: richard.phillips@abhi.org.uk 

For those companies who supply direct to the NHS, a working group is being established to consider options and formal guidance is expected in November. Contingencies here include increasing capacity at ports which are considered to be less congested in the event of delays. Whilst other sectors are adopting a similar approach, our work has ensured that medical devices are regarded as a priority. We are also working with colleagues in the NHS to try and reduce the number of requests that you are receiving from individual organisations.

Our engagement with other interested parties and policy makers continues on a daily basis. Notably, we play an active role in the Ministerial led EU relationship group which meets bi-monthly, and we continue our support of the Brexit Health Alliance, of which we are founder members. We also have had extensive contact with industry associations and embassies of EU27 countries.

You will be aware that our Director of Healthcare Policy presents a weekly blog in which he attempts to cut through the enormous amount of media speculation, which remains exactly that. It has become one of our best read pieces and I know Richard appreciates the many positive messages he receives from you each week. Our website also contains numerous resources that I hope you find helpful, including a checklist to help your preparedness planning. 

Your Board feels strongly that ABHI, as the lead Association in our sector, should continue to fight hard to ensure jobs, prosperity and continued investment for the next generation of HealthTech, bringing ever greater value and improvements to the health of our nation, should be the priority of government as we enter this crucial stage of Brexit negotiations.

If there is anything else you need from us, or would like us to consider, please do not hesitate to contact me personally.

Phil Kennedy, Chair, ABHI