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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:44 am on 19th March 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 10:44 am, 19th March 2019

I am about to, if the hon. Lady will give me time, which is why I will not take her intervention.

Jim Shannon asked about NHS investment. He knows, of course, about the increase in cash terms of £33.9 billion by 2023-24, which reflects, as I said at the outset, our top priority. He also challenged me about the cancer workforce. Baroness Dido Harding, the chair of NHS Improvement, is carrying out a rapid programme of work for the Secretary of State, engaging with relevant stakeholders across the system to build a workforce implementation plan, which the hon. Gentleman mentioned. We have charged her with making sure that her plan matches the long-term plan’s ambitions. The hon. Gentleman will know that the long-term plan superseded previous plans to establish a larger cancer workforce, and Health Education England is now working with Baroness Harding to make sure that is in place.

I listened carefully to David Linden, who asked important questions about insulin and the financial impact of leaving the EU on cancer patients. My officials spoke this morning to insulin suppliers, who have increased their buffer stocks so that they will hold 16 weeks of additional stocks over and above their normal supply. [Interruption.] Yes, it is stockpiling, but it is stockpiling that we have asked the whole pharmaceutical industry to undertake. As the hon. Member for Burnley rightly pointed out, there should be no stockpiling by individuals or pharmacists. I will explain the whole stockpiling issue and why we are rightly putting in place buffer stocks to ensure continuity of supply. The hon. Gentleman asked me whether buffer stocks of insulin are in place, and I can confirm that they are.

The hon. Gentleman also asked me what assessment has been made of the financial impact of EU exit on cancer patients, and what measures are in place to protect services. He will know that the long-term plan contains clear proposals for improving cancer diagnoses. That plan is fully costed. As I just said in response to the hon. Member for Strangford, the workforce implementation plan is putting in place the cancer workforce.

I also listened carefully to the hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, who asked whether my door was open to chairs of all-party parliamentary groups. The answer is yes, of course. If she wishes to contact me, I would be delighted to engage with her, and with chairs of other all-party parliamentary groups.

It is also worth putting on the record the relationship that we are likely to have with the European Medicines Agency post Brexit. The Government are clearly striving for a deal, and in the light of the withdrawal agreement being signed, the political declaration sets out that it is the UK’s intention to explore the possibility of EMA co-operation during negotiations on the future framework. In the event of no deal, we would clearly no longer be any part of the EMA, and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is ready to carry out EMA functions as a sovereign regulator.

To ensure the continuity of supply, the UK will continue to accept batch testing of human medicines carried out in countries named on a list by the MHRA, including EU, European economic area and European Free Trade Agreement countries, and most third countries with which the EU already has in place a mutual recognition agreement.