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23 September 2019

Epilepsy Society welcomes latest plans to ensure supply of medicines post Brexit

Epilepsy Society's Chief Executive Clare Pelham says she is pleased to learn that the Government has now signed up eight firms to help bring in vital medicines to the UK after Brexit on 31 October 2019.

The firms create a list of approved operators to provide extra freight capacity for critical medicines over the next four years.

Anxiety around medications

"We know just how anxious people with epilepsy are about whether they will still be able to access the medications they depend upon after Brexit," said Clare.

"It is very reassuring to hear of this solid commitment from the Department of Transport to ensure a robust and resilient service after we leave the European Union.

"The new freight procurement framework is expected to allow thousands of HGVs to transport critical medicines - including those for epilepsy - into the UK each week.

Medications finely tuned

"We know that Matt Hancock is fully aware of the specific needs of people with epilepsy and that his officials are monitoring post-Brexit preparations carefully to ensure that people with epilepsy get the right drugs at the right time.

"For many people with epilepsy, their medication regime has been finely tuned over many years and involves a delicately balanced combination of medications. It is rarely possible just to swap one drug for another without consequences.

"One breakthrough seizure can have a life-changing impact meaning the loss of a driving licence, possibly a job and reduced quality of life, with anxiety about another seizure always a background worry. We know just how much there is at stake for the people we support."

Matt Hancock blog

Over the last year Epilepsy Society has been working closely with the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSC )to ensure that there will be a continuous supply of medication once we leave the European Union.

In a blog written specifically for the charity, Health Secretary Matt Hancock spelled out his commitment to people with epilepsy:

"I recognise how difficult managing epilepsy can be and therefore how important it is that you, your friends and family don’t have the additional burden of worrying about how and when you will get the medicines you need.

"I want to take this opportunity to reassure you the Government is taking all appropriate steps to prepare to leave the EU on 31 October and our plans should help ensure the supply of medicines remain uninterrupted – meaning you’ll continue to receive the medicine you need to manage your condition."

You can read Matt Hancock's full blog here.

Transport plans

The Department of Transport's announcement of eight firms to provide extra freight capacity for medicines will focus on ports and terminals away from the short straits that are most likely to suffer disruption post Brexit.

The firms include: Brittany Ferries, DFDS A/S, Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries, Seatruck and Stena, as well as operators from the aviation and rail industries Air Charter Services and Eurotunnel.

Healthcare arrangements

The DHSC has also announced that it has asked EU member states to honour existing healthcare arrangements until 31 December 2020. However, if the member states do not agree to this, the Government has promised  to cover healthcare costs of people living in the EU who have their healthcare funded by the UK, for six months post Brexit. This includes pensioners, students, those on disability benefits and UK workers temporarily posted in the EU.

However those in the EU whose treatment is funded by the UK should seek to register for local healthcare. This is designed to ensure a smooth transition and allow people time to make arrangements for their future healthcare.

The Government has also committed to covering the costs of UK nationals in the EU who are in the middle of treatment when we leave the EU, for up to a year. It has promised to: 

  • Cover the healthcare costs for students who begin their courses in the EU ahead of 31 October for the duration of their course;
  • Cover the healthcare costs of UK visitors to the EU who commenced their trip before the UK left the EU until they return to the UK; and
  • Ensure that people currently insured by the UK living in the EU can return to use the NHS temporarily in England, Wales and Scotland free of charge. 

More information

Read about the contingency plans for stockpiling medication in preparation for Brexit.

Our Medical Director Professor Ley Sander explains how to cope if there is a shortage of your medication.