On the 31st of January 2020, the UK is due to leave the European Union (EU). The British government and the EU have yet to agree a formal exit deal and the prospect of leaving without one is still a possibility. This will impact us all individually, as well as businesses and charities like Anthony Nolan.
As part of our planning for life outside the EU, we’re making sure the relevant government bodies fully understand our lifesaving work and how it might be affected. We’re working closely with all UK transplant centres and monitoring the situation daily to ensure the risk of disruption is as low as possible.
However, we don’t think there is any reason for patients that are waiting for or recovering from a stem cell transplant to worry. We have addressed some of the most pressing concerns that we think our patients might have about Brexit below.
We have been working closely with our regulators, the Human Tissues Authority (HTA); the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and our partners in the EU to ensure the continued supply of stem cells from donors in the EU after the UK’s exit. We will continue to meet all EU safety and quality standards, and are working hard to establish written agreements with registries within the EU. Even in the case of no-deal, the HTA will allow a six-month transitional period for these agreements to be in place. Our continued work with the HTA and our colleagues in EU registries means we expect no delay or disruption to the provision of cells for transplant.
The EU has put measures in place to ensure international air transport will operate without disruption for at least a year post-Brexit. UK airlines will still be able to fly to EU airports. However, travelling between the UK and Europe could take a little longer due to potential extra checks at customs – especially in the weeks immediately after leaving. Be assured that our fantastic volunteer couriers have years of experience of travelling quickly and efficiently across Europe and around the world. We’re watching developments closely to manage the risk of any delays and we are working very closely with colleagues in the DHSC to explore alternative travel arrangements if necessary. By working with our courier companies, volunteer couriers and security contacts at UK airports, we are confident that any transport disruption will not impact on the timely delivery of cells to transplant centres and patients.
The British Government is working with pharmaceutical companies to increase their stocks of medicines and to minimise the impact of potential disruption to the supply of medicines and medicinal products to the NHS. At Anthony Nolan, we’re working with our current suppliers to ensure they can continue to supply everything we need to continue our lifesaving work. Where appropriate, we’re purchasing stock earlier to make sure we don’t run out. We are receiving regular updates from the DHSC on their preparations and contingency plans.
If the UK does leave the EU without a deal, academic and charity research organisations, like the Anthony Nolan Research Institute, may have restricted access to EU funding. However, the Government will support existing collaborative research with EU members. At Anthony Nolan, we will continue to work with our international research collaborators. We’re also striving to improve access to clinical trials so that new treatments can be developed and approved more quickly.
The Department of Health and Social Care has produced a set of FAQs that explains how the NHS is preparing for Brexit in England, Similar information is also available for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
If you have any concerns about how Brexit could affect your own treatment, please speak to your medical team. They will be able to give personal advice and answer any questions you have.
You can also contact the Anthony Nolan Patient Services team on 0303 303 0303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.