Volume: 4 Issue: 4
The major challenges created by Brexit could create additional opportunities for the providers of digital health solutions, thinks Matthew Godfrey-Faussett, Partner at Pinsent Masons LLP. “The predicted reduction in the number of health and social care staff recruited from EU27 countries prior to and after Brexit, can be expected to force care providers to put greater emphasis on the use of technology to help address at least some of the resource gap,” said Godfrey-Faussett. “The business case for keeping patients with chronic conditions at home for longer, supported by remote monitoring facilities, should become ever more compelling.”
Following the UK’s triggering of Article 50 formalising the UK’s intention to leave the EU, the Great Repeal Bill: White Paper on Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union was presented to Parliament on 30 March 2017, which presents the Government’s proposed approach to achieving a stable and smooth exit from the EU; this will involve the conversion of the body of existing EU law into domestic law, and will create powers to make secondary legislation to enable ‘corrections’ to be made to the laws that would otherwise no longer operate appropriately.
The UK Government’s Select Committee on Exiting the EU in its third report published on 3 April 2017 on its inquiry into the UK’s negotiating objectives, highlighted the stability of data flows across UK and EU borders as a priority for the negotiations to come. Identifying the importance of data flows to the digital economy, the Committee calls on the Government “to maintain uninterrupted UK-EU data flows by securing a data adequacy agreement with the EU before the end of the Article 50 negotiations.”
Bleddyn Rees, Consultant at Osborne Clarke LLP, explains that the free movement of health data across EU borders has proved very difficult in practice. “I expect important arrangements for free movement of data, data security and privacy, all of which are important for digital health and will be priorities. The Republic of Estonia has recently argued that the free movement of health data should be a new specific right and pillar of the single market,” adds Rees.
The Committee on Exiting the EU also identifies flows of funding and the ability to attract international skills and talent for research and innovation as essential to the Brexit negotiations. The Committee states that in regards to funding flows and Horizon 2020, “the Government needs to make an explicit commitment that it wishes to continue joint research with the EU27 on the basis of the Horizon 2020 framework, and its successor.” “Funding for innovation and research may prove challenging at first, as UK institutions have excelled in securing EU funding so far. They will have to be creative in finding other sources to finance their research. It will be up to the UK to retain that supremacy by remaining ‘open to business’ in the life science field and by ensuring that high tech companies feel welcome and supported,” comments Marie Manley, Partner at Bristows.
The European Parliament published a resolution on 5 April 2017, calling for agreement to be reached as quickly as possible on the relocation of the European Medicines Agency and for that relocation to begin as soon as practicable following the UK’s Article 50 notification.