• Brexit Health Alliance leader urges stronger government commitment in supporting the NHS
  • The alliance is “very concerned” about the risks associated with a no deal
  • Sir Hugh Taylor warns against securing “an edge” on drug supply

A former Department of Health and Social Care permanent secretary has called on the government to put more emphasis on an “innovation rich and technology rich NHS” in order to maintain “a really vibrant life sciences industry” post Brexit.

Sir Hugh Taylor, who is chairman of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust and the Brexit Healthcare Alliance, told HSJ at a parliamentary event he would like to see a “stronger commitment on the part of the government in supporting our health system, alongside our universities” and “comparable levels of investment in our strong science base” which is a “huge national asset”.

“A really vibrant life sciences industry in this country needs an innovation rich and technology rich NHS, so I’d like to see even more emphasis on that in government policy,” Sir Hugh said.

He stressed the alliance was “very concerned about the potential risks associated with a no deal brexit”.

“The Brexit Health Alliance has been committed to looking for an implementation period, so we can have these agreements in place that will be best for patients and our life sciences and economy,” he said.

Sir Hugh also stressed the Brexit Health Alliance’s aim to ensure a “smooth supply” of drugs to and from the UK and Europe.

“We have to be very careful on both sides at any attempt to secure what might be an [competitive] edge, you have to think through all the consequences and implications of doing that,” he added.

The pharmaceutical industry warned earlier this year the EU has yet to put in plans to ensure patients across Europe receive their medicines from the UK.

Philip Kennedy, chair of the Association of British Healthcare Industries, stressed that the regulatory environment is “absolutely critical” for the safe and effective use of medical devices.

“As regulations diverge in the future it is important we recognise a mutual recognition system is extremely important,” Mr Kennedy said. “In a no deal scenario in 2020 onwards, without a seat at the table to influence regulation that would have a significant impact on patient safety.”