Department of Health Brexit update, July 2018

On 9 July, NICVA hosted the Department of Health to give an update on how the Department has been preparing for the UK’s exit from the European Union. The following is a brief report from the event.

DoH representation on Brexit oversight structure

When NICVA last hosted the Department in September 2017, concern was raised by the sector that the Department was not directly represented on the EU Future Relations Division (EUFRD), which was set up to co-ordinate the development of the Executive’s response to Brexit.

Attendees were pleased to hear from La’Verne Montgomery, the Department’s Brexit Lead, that Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly is now represented the Department on the Project Board of the EUFRD.


DoH EU Exit Group

A working group has been established within the Department to co-ordinate work on the implications of Brexit. The group is chaired by La’Verne Montgomery, Director of Corporate Management and comprises senior officials representing all the Department’s policy groups.

The working group has been conducting scoping work, evidence gathering and analysis as well as inputting and responding the UK Government papers. The working group has been guided by four main priorities:

  1. Cross-border healthcare and access to healthcare in EU states post-Brexit
  2. HSC workforce – i.e. mobility, recruitment, retention and professional regulation
  3. Funding issues – i.e. replacement for EU structural funds and access to European competitive funds
  4. Financial risks re: non-pay expenditure


UK Government White Paper

Executive Departments have been asked to consider ‘key issues’ to be reflected in the UK Government White Paper, due to be published imminently this week (w.e. 13 July). The issues identified within the Department of Health for the White Paper are:

  • Mutual recognition of the Professional Qualification Directive
  • Recruitment and retention of EU workers
  • Cross-border movement of HSC staff
  • Pharmacy regulation
  • Cross-border healthcare and access to healthcare in other EU states post-Brexit
  • Funding issues
  • Financial risks re: non-pay expenditure
  • Border and the Common Travel Area
  • Cross-border collaboration on child protection
  • Health security, health protection and public health emergency preparedness
  • Science and innovation/research and development
  • Regulation of medicines and medical devices
  • Procurement and logistics


The White Paper was the subject of the much-publicised Cabinet Summit at Chequers on Friday 9 July and the White Paper, when published, will be subject to a response by the EU27 at a meeting of the General Affairs Council on 20 July.


Delivery Planning

All Executive Departments and arm’s-length bodies are required by the Executive Office to undertake a ‘day one delivery planning exercise’ ahead of Brexit on 29 March 2019 to ensure services will operate effectively after Brexit with minimal disruption to services.

The Department of Health instructed its arm’s-length bodies (HSC Board, Trusts, BSO, RQIA, etc) to scope the services or policy areas within their organisation that may be impacted by EU Exit and to update business continuity plans. The Department has also asked its arm’s-length bodies to identify Brexit leads.

Attendees were reminded that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed". Those in attendance were advised that to date, 13 of the Department’s 17 arm’s-length bodies had submitted ‘no deal’ scenarios which include mitigation, in the event a deal between the UK Government and the EU is not made.


EU Funding

EU funding covers competitive funds such as Horizon 2020 and structural funds such as Interreg. Key commitments and developments have included:

  • UK Treasury guarantee to underwrite funding signed off before Brexit (June 2016)
  • Text of joint report refers to UK and EU honouring commitments under 2014-20 multi-annual financial framework (2017)
  • EU announced intention to make €120m available for peace and cross-border projects in NI following Brexit (May 2018)


Eligibility for healthcare

People in a ‘cross-border position’ at the date of Brexit will be protected, provided a deal is made. Arrangements on future rights (i.e. EHICs, etc) are part of the current negotiations and are linked to free movement of people. The Directive on Cross-Border Healthcare, which allows people to seek treatment and claim back funds, are not part of the discussions at this stage.


Financial risks re Non-Pay Expenditure

In preparation for Brexit on 29 March 2019, DoH Finance will:

  • Assess the financial implications for the HSC arm’s-length bodies in relation to issues and impacts arising from Brexit
  • Propose and agree common assumptions and methodologies to ensure financial impacts are estimated and accessed in a uniform and robust manner
  • Lead on the identification, gathering and co-ordination of required data and evidence to enable the calculation of financial estimates and impacts
  • Consider, produce and disseminate appropriate information and communications to HSC staff


Next steps

The Department will continue to monitor progress of negotiations and implications for health and social care and continue to participate in UK-wide discussions on the repatriation of powers and common frameworks issues, such as:

  • Reciprocal healthcare arrangements
  • Public health
  • Mutual recognition of professional qualifications

The Department will continue to feed into The Executive Office’s engagement with the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) on NI’s health and social care issues and potential implications.

NICVA Brexit Articles Timeline

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