Brexit: Import of Radioisotopes - Private Notice Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:37 am on 7th March 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 11:37 am, 7th March 2019

I thank the noble Baroness for this. It is a very important question that she has raised. The Government’s first priority is to ensure continuity of care and patient safety, no matter the outcome of EU exit. That is why we have been putting important medical supply and contingency plans in place for the unlikely event of a no deal, even though that is not the Government’s plan.

The guidelines issued by the Royal College of Radiologists were in response to the plans from two major suppliers, representing at least 80% of the market, which have arranged contracts for air freight capacity to commence this month for the supply of radioisotopes. It is important to note that many isotopes already use air freight, and their deliveries will see no change in their arrival arrangements. Of course, the supply in these routes is relevant because radioisotopic materials have a short half-life, and therefore these changes, although minor, will have an impact on clinical pathways.

It is absolutely right for the Royal College of Radiologists to put some guidelines in place, and we have been working closely with it, the Department of Health and NHS England to offer clinics practical advice in allowing adjustment in their clinical processes. We do not expect any patient harm to arise from this, and the changes in clinical pathways and practice are expected to be minor and short-lived. We do not expect any delays or increased waiting times to arise from this; this is straightforward, practical advice to support clinics in adapting to changes in delivery times.

I hope that is a reassuring Answer for the noble Baroness, and that it has clarified what was, I think, some sensationalist media reporting of the advice.