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Patients at risk if time-sensitive medical supply chain is disrupted after Brexit, Lords Committee warn

Up to one million patients could be affected if there is any delay or disruption to the supply of medical radioisotopes after the UK leaves Euratom, the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee have warned in a letter to BEIS and the Department of Health.

This follows an evidence session with expert witnesses that looked at the implications of leaving Euratom for the safe and timely import and export of medical radioisotopes, which are essential tools for both diagnostic tests and treatments for cancers, heart disease, kidney disease and bone disease.

The Committee heard that because medical radioisotopes have a very short half-life, leaving Euratom risks disrupting this time-sensitive supply chain. Patients depend on timely delivery, and anything that threatens that supply chain will put their health and wellbeing at risk.

Chairman of the Committee, Lord Jay of Ewelme, said:

“The Committee is very concerned that the health implications of leaving Euratom have not been given the priority that they require within Government. The UK imports 80% of radioisotopes from the EU and time is running out to set up a system to replace the current structure that relies on the safe and timely transport and delivery of these items.

“The best chance of securing a reliable and timely supply of medical radioisotopes between the UK and the EU, and for maintaining our world-leading position in nuclear medicine research, would be, as our witnesses said, to have as close a relationship as possible with Euratom post-Brexit.

"We invite ministers to tell us what is being done at Government level to coordinate the work that needs to happen to ensure that the import of radioisotopes from the EU does not take longer, cost more or carry a higher risk of encountering delays.”

Read the full letter here.

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