Leaving the EU: Health and Social Care — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:31 am on 19th March 2019.

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Photo of Julie Cooper Julie Cooper Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care) (Community Health) 10:31 am, 19th March 2019

I absolutely agree. We cannot dismiss concerns just because we do not like their implications; it would be irresponsible to do so. Delivery into the UK is currently a just-in-time service for the pharmaceutical industry, for many of the reasons I have mentioned. It is true that in the long term, there is some manufacturing capacity in the UK and we could change the way we get our supplies, but that is not going to happen overnight. It would take a considerable amount of time, given the stringent safety requirements involved in the manufacture of safe medicines, for us to be able to do that.

I am not convinced that we have sufficient supplies or that sufficient steps are in place to ensure an uninterrupted supply. People, including those who rely on insulin, are legitimately worried. Breast cancer care organisations have raised the issue of access to radioactive isotopes needed in the vital treatment of breast cancer. It would be irresponsible of them not to raise that. It is extremely worrying, given that we have only 10 days until the UK leaves the EU, that there are still no arrangements in place. There is no doubt that the UK will need time to establish new supply chains, which is perfectly possible. It is not scaremongering. [Interruption.] I thank the Minister for the comments he has just made from a sedentary position, but we are not convinced. It we were to leave without a deal, the effects would be catastrophic.