Labour has pledged today to protect NHS patients’ access to medicines after Brexit by announcing a Labour government will seek to remain part of the European Medicines Agency.
Labour will also seek to protect the NHS workforce by guaranteeing the rights and status of existing European Economic Area nationals, but also ensuring our NHS and care sector can recruit the staff needed in the future.
The pledge will form part of Labour’s consistent approach to Brexit, building on Labour’s 2017 manifesto commitment to “seek to maintain membership of (or equivalent relationships with) European organisations which offer benefits to the UK.”
Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen, Labour MEPs for the North East of England, strongly welcomed the news.
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP said:
“Last year the Tory government began dragging our health sector down this damaging road when, due to the complete lack of certainty as a result of the shambolic Brexit negotiations, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced its relocation away from London. This will ultimately mean the loss of 900 jobs as well as that of a €322 million budget – €16.5m direct from the EU, mainly to support policies for orphan and paediatric medicines, as well as advanced therapies.
“The damage is done now, but Labour is absolutely right to pledge remaining a part of the EMA and – most importantly – to fight against any kind of Brexit deal that Theresa May and David Davis draw up which doesn’t prioritise our NHS.”
Paul Brannen MEP added:
“The NHS is the Labour Party’s proudest achievement, so we thoroughly welcome the commitment to fight against a Brexit deal that would put it at risk. We already know that the number of unfilled NHS jobs in the North East has hit one in 55, the joint-highest on record, and that the number of EU nurse applicants has seen a sharp drop of 96% since the Brexit vote. This reckless Tory government is pursuing a bad Brexit deal and losing sight of what we need to protect the most.
“It’s also great to see Labour supporting staying part of the Horizon 2020 agreement on research funding and continue to welcome research staff to the UK. Continued scientific collaboration with our European neighbours is absolutely vital – Brexit shouldn’t undermine our world-leading research.”