Signpost showing Union Jack flag and EU flag

Brexit and MS

It's now over two years since the UK voted to leave the EU. The date is set for 29 March 2019, but our future relationship with the EU remains unclear.

There’s a lot of debate about whether we’ll have a deal or a no deal Brexit, and what either option could look like. But no one seems to have all the answers.

So we looked at all the information to see what Brexit could mean for our MS community. We’ve chosen four questions to answer today, and as we get more information we’ll update this blog.

1. Will treatments for MS continue to be available?

Yes. We don’t believe existing treatments will be affected.

The UK Government has said medicine supplies may be affected by a no-deal Brexit. So they’ve asked drug companies to increase their medicine stocks by an extra 6 weeks. This should help make sure people with MS continue to access the medicines they need.

We've also had assurances from industry that they don't expect there to be a shortage of MS medicines. We'll be keeping a very close eye on this.

2. Will new treatments for MS be affected by Brexit?

There’s still a question about whether the UK will be able to access new medicines as quickly after Brexit.

At the moment, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is responsible for approving new medicines. But the UK's future relationship with the EMA is yet to be decided. The Government has said a system for approving drugs will be in place, whatever the outcome in the Brexit negotiations.

If the UK needs a new system after Brexit, this could be a chance to improve the current process and quicken access to new medicines.

But, if the system is too different from what’s used in the EU, drug companies might try to get drugs to market there, before getting approval in the UK.

3. Will there be enough carers and hospital staff after Brexit?

There's currently a shortage of staff working in the NHS and social care. We don’t have enough MS nurses, and have far fewer neurologists per head in the UK compared to other European countries.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council, who regulate nurses, say they've already seen a fall in EU nurses applying for jobs in the UK. Brexit could mean EU staff are less likely to want to work in the UK.

Accessing health and care professionals at the right time is very important. The UK Government has said it will protect the future of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.

But it hasn’t properly explained how it will deal with the falling numbers of staff from the EU. The Government should clearly set out how they plan to maintain a strong and diverse health and care workforce. We must ensure that people with MS get the right care they need after Brexit.

4. What are we doing about it?

We’ve been working with the NHS, healthcare professionals, medical researchers and other charities to make sure we get the best deal for people living with MS.

As a member of the Richmond Group of Charities, we’re part of the Brexit Health Alliance, a coalition group speaking up for the health sector as the UK leaves the EU. The Alliance has been at the heart of conversations with Government about how to protect the NHS and social care after Brexit. Together we’re calling for “maximum levels of research” and continued collaboration with the EU after Brexit.

The UK Government must get Brexit right. We want to see the interests of people with MS, and the needs of the NHS and social care given the consideration they need.

If you’d like more information on Brexit, or you’d like to tell us your thoughts on the issues we’ve discussed above, you can email campaigns@mssociety.org.uk.

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