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Labour pledge on health: Brexit won't harm treatment

A LABOUR government would circumvent any risk to patients’ treatment after Brexit by seeking to remain part of the European Medicines Agency.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth will announce the plan in Brussels today as part Labour’s push to build links with EU figures.

“Labour will not sign off on a Brexit deal that turns the clock back on medical innovation or sees patients in the UK having to wait longer to get access to life-changing treatments,” Mr Ashworth will say. “It is a red line for me and it is red line for the Labour Party.”

Half of Britain’s medicines go to France, Germany and the Netherlands. Every month, 45 million packs are exported from Britain to the EU and 37m imported.

Britain also has the highest number of phase-one clinical trials across the EU, especially for rare and childhood diseases.

After Brexit, some new medicines could never be marketed in Britain and the average delay in submission of new medicine marketing authorisations could be up to three months, Mr Ashworth will say. For instance, Switzerland, which is not part of the agency, gets access to new medicines an average of 157 days later than EU nations.

Other commitments include protecting NHS workers who are European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, and ensuring the NHS and care sector can recruit more staff in the future.

Labour will also seek to prioritise the negotiation of continued access to existing reciprocal healthcare schemes with EEA countries or the creation of comparable alternatives.

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