Brexit and child health - summary of agreements

During the transition period, RCPCH called on Government to put children and young people’s best interest at the centre of its negotiations with the European Union. We summarise and review the agreements made in the UK-EU deal that will impact on child health and our members.

Updated: 22 January 2021

During the transition period, RCPCH called on Government to put children and young people’s best interest at the centre of its negotiations with the EU. We summarise and review the agreements made in the UK-EU deal that will impact on child health and our members. 

Medicines supply

  • The UK-EU agreement has set up a system for the two sides to recognise each other’s Good Manufacturing Practice inspections of medical facilities.
  • It does not cover other stages in the process, such as batch testing of medicines. (From 2022, it will not be legal to batch test medicines for sale in the EU in the UK.) 
  • UK-approved goods will only be accepted in the UK, which could pose a rise to competitiveness of UK goods over time.
  • There has so far been one notable example of leaving the EU causing problems with access to medicines – regarding a small number of children with a rare form of epilepsy and a particular kind of medicinal cannabis.1 2 We will be monitoring this closely.

Workforce

  • The agreement contains ‘non-regression’ commitments not to lower standards, which make it less likely that there will be big changes to rights at work and occupational health and safety standards.
  • The agreement sets up a framework for possible future mutual recognition of professional qualifications on a profession-by-profession basis through the Partnership Council, but no new qualifications will be recognised from day one.
  • The UK Government is considering future recognition arrangements for incoming professionals after the end of 2022 but will continue to recognise EEA (European Economic Area) qualification.

Science and research

  • The agreement gives the UK access to Horizon Europe in return for a financial contribution. British scientists will still be able to be included in flagship Horizon Europe funding programmes.
  • There is mutual recognition of professional qualifications for researchers.

Reciprocal healthcare

  • The agreement contains agreed social security coordination measures aimed at protecting the entitlements of EU citizens temporarily staying in, working in or moving to the UK, and of UK nationals temporarily staying in, working in or moving in the EU.
  • Travellers back and forth will still be able to access care like locals do.
  • Provision for pre-planned care for those with ongoing needs will continue.
  • Providers can continue to use processes already in place to recover costs from EU members.
  • UK Global Health Insurance Card will be launched by the Government next year.

Health security cooperation

  • Agreement includes participation in key EU data sharing platforms and limited access (on request and ad hoc) to alert systems, such as the EU’s Early Warning and Response System (EWRS), for timely sharing of information about health threats.
  • The agreement provides for a future memorandum of understanding between the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the relevant UK body.
  • EWRS access will be available when necessary and requested, which will allow the UK to share and receive information on public health threats.

Northern Ireland protocol