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The final Brexit deal was agreed on 24 December 2020. Here’s a summary of what it means for people with Parkinson’s.

Medicine supply The UK Government has put in place contingency plans to keep medicines, medical devices and products in supply. These include:

  • Suppliers holding 6 weeks’ extra stock above their usual levels and continuing to replenish them as they’re used.
  • Buying extra space on ferries and prioritising medicines and medical devices for import. The UK Government has also set up an express freight service to deliver medical products where there’s an urgent need.
  • Preparing medicine suppliers for new border arrangements to enable them to re-route their medicines and make sure they’re able to enter the country.
  • Putting regulations in place to ensure that medicines, medical devices and clinical trials licensed or tested in the EU can continue to be used in the UK. This includes in Northern Ireland.

Accessing healthcare across the EU From 1 January 2021, people who travel from the UK to the EU (and EU travellers in the UK) will continue to be able to receive medically necessary treatment if they fall ill while abroad.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be replaced by the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Current EHIC holders will still have access to necessary healthcare in EU countries until their card’s expiry date, at which point they will be able to apply for a GHIC. The new card is free and applications can be completed via the NHS website.

The new card covers all emergency care and pre-planned treatments such as dialysis and chemotherapy.

People who require pre-planned treatment during their trip to an EU country can arrange to have it paid for in advance, and should not have to pay upfront for treatment themselves. Please note that this arrangement does not apply to non-EU countries including Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. For more information about healthcare while travelling to the EU visit the UK Government website.

Safeguarding research The UK will be able to take part in the EU’s scientific research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe, to collaborate on researching and developing cutting-edge treatments.

The UK and the EU have agreed to facilitate movement of researchers with as few barriers as possible now that freedom of movement has ended

Public health and health security The UK and the EU have agreed to collaborate in tackling health threats, though the UK will not normally have access to EU databases and will not retain membership of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The UK can request access to the EU’s Early Warning System (EWRS) if it needs to tackle a specific threat.

What should people with Parkinson’s do?

  • Keep ordering your repeat prescriptions and take your medicines as normal.
  • Share any issues you’re having about accessing medications with Parkinson’s UK by contacting our helpline on hello@parkinsons.org.uk or 0800 800 0303. Please provide details on where you live (or work if you’re a Parkinson’s health professional) and the name, strength and supplier of the medication. We’ll share this information with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) only to allow them to pinpoint where they need to take action to address any potential shortfalls.
  • If you’re planning to travel to the EU, please ensure you have a valid EHIC or apply for the new GHIC. It’s also important to make sure you have adequate travel insurance.

What should professionals do?

  • Read updates from the UK Government, your local health body and the NHS and share relevant information with patients to reassure them.
  • Share any issues you’re having accessing medications with Parkinson’s UK.
  • Parkinson’s UK will continue to work with the DHSC and pharmaceutical companies to ensure that people with Parkinson’s are able to access the medicines and services they rely on.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact our helpline on hello@parkinsons.org.uk or 0800 800 0303.