The impact of Brexit on Radiotherapy

The impact of Brexit on Radiotherapy – February 1st 2019

We give Brexit a very brief review from a professional and corporate perspective and provide interesting and relevant professional links to provide some answers.

Current Brexit status

As I write this Teresa May’s government has just lost the vote in the UK Parliament to back her “EU Withdrawal agreement” by a huge majority however she did win a vote of confidence in her government the same day following closely on the heels of her winning the internal Tory vote of no-confidence in her leadership.
Some amendments to the Brexit Bill have now been presented in Parliament and voted on, some to revoke Article 50 and delay Brexit have failed, as have ones to hold a new referendum or People’s vote. A modification to legally alter the backstop plans for the Irish border has been adopted and a vote to ensure a no deal Brexit is avoided has also been passed but this is only indicative, not legally binding.

So how will all this impact on Radiotherapy services in the UK?

Some key questions arise:
Will we be more closely aligned professionally to ASTRO and not ESTRO especially with regards to clinical research and development projects in radiotherapy and will leaving the EU affect critical funding for important clinical trials in cancer treatment?
Will a hard Brexit have more of an effect on us than a soft one?
Will leaving the Euratom treaty as will happen after Brexit affect access to critical radioisotopes used in radiotherapy and also in PET/CT imaging of cancer patients?

Pic PET images


Will key staffing of radiotherapy centres be affected by leaving the EU and when freedom of movement ends. The RCR and BMA both think so below and also there may also be an impact on student training where EU students may no longer have access to UK Higher Education institutes offering radiology/radiotherapy and oncology-based courses?

Will other important areas be affected aside from recruitment and radioisotope supply. Current EU employment law and EU legislation for radioactive materials will end at the time of Brexit?

How will Brexit affect the UK’s medical technology industry?

“The UK medical devices industry may face difficulty in accessing the EU market due to the imposition of non-tariff barriers, such as regulatory hurdles” is discussed in the link below.

Will this key area bond us more closely to the US where we already export more medical equipment than we import presently and how will Brexit impact on radiotherapy equipment suppliers based in the EU, UK, US and other countries? Will your efforts in CE marking your products be in vain or no longer acceptable to the EU if UK accredited marking is no longer acceptable?

Will you need to invest in US based FDA approvals and will the NHS now look for cheaper medical equipment alternatives. Will the UK authorities bring the tougher Medical Devices Act into UK Law and apply this legislation to medical equipment in the UK?

Perhaps the following links will provide some answers:

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Here are some key opinions on Brexit from our leading professional bodies in the UK and other media.

Royal College of Radiologists Response: Brexit – medicines, medical devices and substances of human origin inquiry

“Six percent of clinical oncology consultants and ten percent of consultant radiologists qualified in the EU. In addition, approximately 16% of the academic workforce in the UK is from other parts of the EU”

Read more:

RCR statement on the potential impact of leaving the Euratom treaty

Dr Nicola Strickland, President of The Royal College of Radiologists, said:

“Radioactive isotopes play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating cancer in the UK. Material used for PET/CT scanning is manufactured in the UK. The rest of our supply of radioisotopes – used in scanning and the systemic and internal treatment of a wide range of cancers – is imported from Europe and further afield. Recent data show that in England around half a million scans are performed annually using imported radioisotope, while more than 10,000 patients across the UK have their cancers directly treated by these materials”

“The Royal College of Radiologists, like others in medicine and industry, is seriously concerned about continued access to these materials if we leave the Euratom treaty under Brexit”

Read more:

BREXIT: Break it or leave it? Impact on Educational services.

The Journal of Radiography

The Heads of Radiography Education (HRE), an independent group of senior academics representing 20 UK Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) delivering Diagnostic Radiography and Radiotherapy & Oncology undergraduate courses were surveyed on their opinions as to the impact of Brexit being felt within the sector.

Read more:

Patients’ needs must be central to negotiations on Brexit

The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) today calls on the Government to put patients and their carers at the heart of negotiations on exiting the European Union. Read more:

Doctors warn border delays could ruin medicines amid fears No-deal Brexit ‘will put cancer patients at risk’ The Daily Mail’s thoughts!

Supplies of radioactive medicines for tumours could be delayed after Brexit

The NHS sources most nuclear medicines cancer patients need from Europe

Euratom agreement means strong drugs have to be checked at borders

Leading doctors last night warned that the treatment of thousands of cancer patients could be dangerously delayed in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Critical supplies of radioactive medicines used to treat a range of tumours are at risk of being held up if the UK crashes out of the European Union.

Some of the treatments only work for a matter of days after being created, meaning any delay in transporting them can diminish their effectiveness.

Read more:

IPEM concerns on Brexit

Following the decision taken by the UK in June 2016 to leave the European Union after the Referendum vote, the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) has responded to a number of EU-related consultations, attended several meetings on the potential impact of Brexit and worked alongside partner organisations and bodies to ensure the voice of science and engineering is heard.

Read more:

SoR UK Council endorses TUC Brexit statement

With the crucial House of Commons’ vote on the government’s Brexit deal due on Tuesday (11 December), the Society’s UK Council has endorsed the TUC Brexit briefing circulated to affiliated unions recently.

This document addresses the situation should MPs reject the deal and calls for either a general election or a people’s vote to avoid the UK crashing out of the European Union with no deal. Download the TUC briefing.

Paul Moloney, the SoR industrial relations manager commented, “UK Council have assessed the likely impact of a no deal exit from the EU against the objectives outlined in the statement endorsed by delegates at the Annual Delegates Conference (ADC) in 2017.

Read more:

BMA votes to oppose Brexit “as a whole” and calls for public final say on deal

Doctors at the BMA’s annual representative meeting have voted to oppose Brexit “as a whole” and called for the public to have a final say on the exit deal negotiated by the government.

The backing of all seven parts of the motion means a change in BMA policy on the European Union, as it has adopted a neutral stance until now. After a debate on 27 June some 76% of representatives voted to remain in the single market, and 91% supported free movement of healthcare workers and research staff.

Read more:


Let us have your Brexit thoughts and its impact on Radiotherapy to and we can share these with our readers.

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Don’t forget to look out for Duncan Hynd’s – A “Radiographers life” in Radiotherapy Blog part 2 in February on his final year as a student and including an updated summary direct from the SCoR on Radiographer apprenticeships, available online from the 15th February on or