The treatment of Scottish patients must not be compromised or delayed warns Health Committee


The Health and Sport Committee are warning against weakening the Scottish Parliament's ability to take decisions in the best interests of Scotland once powers are devolved from the European Union (EU).

In a special report looking at the potential impact leaving the EU could have on health and social care in Scotland, MSPs have noted how much of the health and care system is intertwined with areas of EU regulation and that without EU workers the NHS and social care services would be placed under extreme pressure. They set out findings from evidence heard during its inquiry to avoid damaging services in Scotland. These include:

  • Concerns the withdrawal from EURATOM could result in delays to the UK receiving medical isotopes used in the treatment of cancer and as a result, delays in treatment for patients.
  • Concerns about the implications on research in Scotland post-Brexit, including the loss of future funding and the possible loss of Scotland's position at the forefront of research and innovation.
  • UK wide common frameworks must exist in areas such as blood safety, data protection and organs and tissue. It is in no-one's interests for these to diverge in Scotland. These should mirror those of the EU as closely as possible.
  • Parliament must have a role in scrutinising proposed common frameworks to safeguard the interests of patients, staff and stakeholders
  • The Scottish Government must continue to involve stakeholders in its decision-making processes.
  • Public health powers must continue to be devolved to Scotland and not retained at UK level to ensure Scotland can continue to take decisions in the best interests of the country.
  • Although immigration policy is largely outwith the Scottish Parliament's competence, post Brexit immigration law may impact on staffing in the NHS and social care in Scotland. A majority* of the Committee also took the view that powers should be devolved to allow any shortages in skills in medical workforce to be addressed.

Lewis Macdonald MSP, Convener of the Health and Sport Committee, said:

“We agree with the Finance and Constitution Committee that Brexit is not solely a matter for Governments but must be transparent and inclusive of Parliament and stakeholders.

“The Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament have a strong history of engagement with people and organisations and this should continue in relation to powers devolved from the EU”.

“The Parliament must maintain its role in scrutinising proposed common frameworks to safeguard the interests of patients, staff and stakeholders across Scotland. We must have the opportunity to consider and input to each of the common frameworks in relation to health and social care before they are finalised”.

*The Conservative members of the committee dissented on this point.

Notes to Editor

The full report is linked below:

The impact of leaving the European Union on health and social care in Scotland (pdf 1MB)

Information regarding the inquiry can be accessed here.

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