British patients are likely to see longer waits for the newest medicines as manufacturers will prioritise the much bigger EU market to trial and seek approval for new products from the European Medicines Agency, which is leaving London.
Each year close to a million patients in the UK receive radiotherapies or scans, around 80% of which use materials imported from EU manufacturers. Currently Euratom tightly regulates this area in the EU, but the government intends to leave this as well and set up its own regulator; there are serious concerns from doctors, unions and MPs about the practicality, cost and impact of this plan.
There are 12,000 EU/EEA nationals working as doctors in the NHS. In a recent survey 18% already have plans to leave the UK because of Brexit and 45% of the sample surveyed say they are considering it.
More than 10,000 EU nationals left the NHS in the first twelve months following the referendum. By the summer of 2017 there were 40,000 nursing vacancies (one in nine posts) and at the same time an 89% fall in the number of nurses from EU countries applying to work in the UK.
Outside a customs union with the EU, the UK could have to set import tariffs on branded drugs coming from other member countries. This would lower competitive pressures on medicines in the UK and increase the price of the branded drugs that you pick up from the pharmacist.
Reciprocal healthcare arrangements for UK citizens living in the EU and EU27/EEA citizens in the UK have still not been resolved and this will increase the administrative burden and expense for the NHS and individuals.