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Pharmacists who qualified in the European Union (EU) can continue to practise in the UK after Brexit, even in a no-deal scenario, the Government has confirmed.
Legislation introduced by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) last month (7 March) will allow pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to continue to practise in the UK as they do now. It encouraged EU nationals working in the UK to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.
All regulatory bodies for the health and social care sectors, including the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), will accept the training EU nationals completed in their home countries, the DHSC said.
Those qualified in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland can register after Brexit takes place, even if the UK leaves without a deal, it added.
Employers will not need to change EU staff contracts even if the UK leaves without a deal, the DHSC said.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Every day across the health and social care system, our EU colleagues and friends make a difference to millions of lives, and this vital legislation means they will be able to continue work here, whatever the Brexit outcome.
‘My message to EU staff is clear – we all want you to feel valued and stay in the UK. Today’s announcement builds on our NHS long-term plan’s commitment to recruit and retain a world-class workforce over the long term.’
In a letter sent to health and social care staff last week (4 April), Mr Hancock reiterated the Government’s advice that pharmacies and patients should not stockpile medicines in anticipation of Brexit, although it is continuing to ask pharmaceutical companies to do so.
Mr Hancock said: ‘We know your focus is on maintaining high standards of care and strongly urge you and your colleagues not to over-order or over-prescribe medicines. Local stockpiling is unnecessary and could cause shortages which would put those that need medicines at risk.
‘We have well established routine procedures to deal with medicine shortages, from whatever cause…While we never provide guarantees, we are confident that, if everyone – including suppliers, freight companies, international partners and the health and care system – does what they need to do, the supply of medicines and medical products should be uninterrupted in the event of exiting the EU without a deal.’
This month, it emerged that 64% of primary care professionals predict that Brexit will make medicines shortages worse, according to the results of a survey by Hospital Pharmacy Europe’s parent company Cogora.