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The Department says “a plan to identify and manage all the main contingencies will be put in place” in the event of a UK vote to leave the EU. The UK’s referendum on whether to stay within or leave the EU takes place this Thursday, 23 June.
“A UK referendum vote to leave the EU is one of the issues which the Department has been considering in the context of risk management,” a Department spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).
“Clearly, as the date of the referendum approaches, this matter will remain high on our priorities and in the event of an overall leave vote, a plan to identify and manage all the main contingencies will be put in place.”
This newspaper asked the Department had it made any plans for a possible ‘Brexit’, considering the extensive cross-border health projects such as services in Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, deep-brain stimulation (DBS) treatments in Belfast on an all-Ireland basis, Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT), the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) and active co-operation between hospitals on both sides of the border on paediatric congenital heart disease care.
But the spokesperson added that even in the event of a vote to leave, nothing would change in the short term in terms of services and institutions.
“It is likely to take at least two years of negotiations between all EU member states, including Ireland, to agree a new arrangement between the UK and the EU [if the UK votes to leave],” said the spokesperson.
“This means that citizens can rest assured that a UK decision to leave the EU will have no immediate implications in the field of healthcare. Arrangements are in place to consider any longer-term implications of the referendum result.
“A UK decision to leave the EU will have an impact across a whole range of areas and health is no exception, but we will work with our partners in Europe and with the UK to address these issues in a coherent and organised fashion.
“The Department of Health will be fully involved in negotiations to agree a new arrangement between the UK and the EU, as will all relevant stakeholders.”