Members of the Alliance, including both SMEs and large companies, agreed that it was crucial to examine how the UK’s withdrawal from the EU would affect regulatory arrangements to ensure the safe supply of medical technologies to patients, post-Brexit. The inquiry was also seen as an important step in ensuring Government prioritised the uptake of medical technologies across the UK’s healthcare system.
Members raised several recommendations as part of their submission including:
- Urging the Government to make its position on Brexit and the life sciences clearer and regularly consult with industry to ensure that companies of all sizes are informed in making necessary preparations for the future, especially in regards to the possibility and length of any transition period.
- Greater collaboration between the NHS, decision-making bodies and industry to ensure that vital medical technologies reach patients quicker.
- Pressing Government to outline ambitious steps to ensure the UK maintains its position as a global leader in producing medical technologies through the next iterations of the Sector Deal for Life Sciences.
Members voiced concerns for the future, especially in relation to potential changes in the regulatory environment, staffing and their ability to distribute products globally – all of which might adversely affect the availability of essential technologies to patients.
Despite these concerns, the members also considered the opportunities that may arise for the medtech sector following Brexit, particularly the prospect of a comprehensive free trade deal between the UK and US and the possibility of stripping away any EU-based red tape to encourage further research and innovation.
The views of industry members were echoed by the Chair of the Alliance Dame Barbara Hakin, former Deputy Chief Executive of NHS England who said:
“I welcome this important inquiry by the Health Committee. I do hope that the Government continues its commitment to ensuring the UK remains a world leader in medical technologies through the swift implementation of the plans outlined in its recent response to the Accelerated Access Review and in the recently published Life Sciences Sector Deal”
The medical technology industry in the UK is a thriving one; as well as improving patient outcomes, the Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy points out that exports of medical devices increased from £4.5bn in 2015 to £4.9bn in 2016. It is therefore more important than ever that the industry’s ability to get transformative devices into the healthcare system is valued and appropriately supported by the Government.