Responding to the announcement of the Brexit trade agreement, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “On behalf of our members, who have faced the toughest year in the history of the health service, the NHS Confederation welcomes the trade deal that has provisionally been agreed between the UK and the EU. It should offer a measure of much-needed certainty and security for the NHS, our partners and our patients. It also lays the foundations for future agreements.
“We need to see the final details when the full text is released, but initial reports suggest there are welcome measures, including the continuation of the European Health Insurance Card and the UK’s continued participation in Horizon Europe. We now look forward to seeing the detail of the agreement as it applies to health and care, and await the parliamentary vote on 30 December, when we can hopefully finally draw a line under the machinations of the last four years and move forward.
“The best outcome for the NHS and the UK was always to reach a deal, and that should obviate the need for an extension to the transition period. The UK has avoided a non-negotiated outcome and a cliff edge on 1 January. But as we warned in our 23 December letter to the Prime Minister, there is still a risk of significant disruption to the NHS’s ability to care for its patients, and especially in the South East, where our members have consistently warned that ambulances and clinicians could face delays because of major congestion on the roads in Kent. Alongside this, across the UK yesterday, new COVID-19 infections were at a record high, with some of the highest levels in Kent, exacerbated by the new variant.”