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Palliative Care sector raises concerns over Brexit

The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care has written to David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, raising concerns over the impact that withdrawal from the EU may have on the care of the dying in Scotland.

The open letter, signed on behalf of the Partnership’s governing council, calls on Mr Davis to recognise the part that EU health and social care staff play in end of life care in Scotland, and to pay due attention to sustaining staff numbers. There is little capacity to absorb any detrimental impacts of Brexit, the letter states.

The letter points to research that reveals Brexit could have a disruptive impact on care of the dying in Scotland:

  • Uncertainty over Brexit has already reduced the numbers of EU nurses registering to practice in the UK (Nursing and Midwifery Council)
  • 4% of nurses and midwives in NHS Scotland are non-British EU nationals, as are 1400 doctors (Scottish Government)
  • 6% of the care home workforce are non-British EU nationals. (Scottish Care)

It also expresses concern over the future of EU research funding and cross-border collaboration into the improvement of end of life care. Clinical medicine and biosciences research received well over £200 million in EU research funding in 2014/15.

The Westminster Government is also urged to ensure that any new arrangements between the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Medicines Agency do not result in delayed patient access to new drugs.

“The importance of good end of life care cannot be overstated,” says Mark Hazelwood, Chief Executive of the Scottish Partnership of Palliative Care, “It is central to a caring and compassionate society. Any negative impact on staff or funding caused by exiting the European Union will bring great difficulties to a sector that already faces significant challenges, and could cause unnecessary suffering to people who are at their most vulnerable.”

Update: the SPPC has received a response from Jackie Doyle Price MP.


The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care brings together over 50 organisations involved in providing palliative and end of life care in Scotland. Membership of the Partnership spans organisations employing health and social care professionals in hospitals, social care services, primary care, hospices and other charities. The Partnership exists to improve people’s experiences of declining health, death, dying and bereavement.

The full text of the letter can be found here: Open letter to Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

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