• Alliance of NHS organisations to speak up for the health service to be announced within the month
  • NHS Confederation behind the plan, which will not argue for or against Brexit
  • The group will aim to ensure issues affecting NHS are recognised by government

An alliance of NHS organisations is being assembled to fight the health service’s corner during the Brexit negotiations, HSJ has learned.

Sources have told HSJ the group is being coordinated by the NHS Confederation with the aim of bringing together NHS representative bodies to ensure a single clear message on what is needed to ensure the NHS is not damaged by the UK leaving the EU.

Work is taking place to set up the alliance and it is not yet clear which organisations have agreed to join. However, HSJ understands NHS Providers is also part of the discussions.

Key areas of focus have already been agreed. These include:

  • research and innovation;
  • health technology and regulation;
  • public health; and
  • funding.

The thinking behind the alliance is to strengthen the NHS’s ability to lobby the government and senior cabinet ministers as they prepare to begin negotiations with the European Union over Britain’s future relationship with the continent.

Sources close to the discussions told HSJ the alliance will not campaign for or against the principle of leaving the EU, but will aim to “maximise opportunities and mitigate any risks” to the NHS by ensuring the issues affecting it are recognised and addressed during the negotiations.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is not a permanent member of the cabinet Brexit committee, despite concerns that the UK could lose out on access to medicines after the European Medicines Agency relocates to Europe from London.

Immigration has also emerged as an area of concern, with leaked modelling by the Department of Health showing a worst case scenario of a 42,000 nursing shortage by 2026. The modelling also revealed a significant gap between best case supply of nurses and unconstrained demand growth.

The new alliance, which is likely to be announced within the next month, will aim to offer a “unified voice for the healthcare sector on issues relating to Brexit”, HSJ was told.

It will focus on issues affecting patients, commissioners and the wider healthcare industry.

The alliance is expected to work alongside the Cavendish Coalition, which is focused on the effect of Brexit on the health and social care workforce, and was established by NHS Employers and more than 30 health and social care organisations.