A number of people have asked us what effect Brexit might have on people living with A-T. In particular, there have been questions about the availability of drugs and the ability of people with A-T in the Irish Republic to go on attending the specialist A-T clinics at Nottingham and Papworth.
This statement is based on advice from the Highly Specialised Services team at NHS England and from specialists at the two A-T specialist centres and reflects our understanding of the situation at the time of publication. However, few people will need reminding that the situation is currently very uncertain and nobody can predict with any certainty what may happen in the days and weeks to come, and the situation may change at any time.
Availability of drugs
After consultation with the Highly Specialised Services team at NHS England and the A-T specialist teams at Nottingham and Papworth, we can say that there is no reason to think that any of the drugs being used by people with A-T will become harder to access after Brexit.
However, the distribution of medicines is organised locally and if anyone has any concerns about this, they should talk to their GP or other local doctors treating them. They can also look for further information on the website of their local NHS trust, though we are aware that while some sites have information, others do not.
Some specific concerns have been raised about the availability of immunoglobulins. The A-T Society understands that there have for some time been a few issues affecting the availability of these drugs in the UK which are unrelated to Brexit and may continue for a while. However their availability should not be adversely affected by Brexit and indeed, as A-T is considered an immunodeficiency condition, people with A-T would be prioritised, were a shortage ever to occur.
Non-UK nationals attending the A-T clinics
We have been informed by NHS England that the existing situation that allows people from the Republic of Ireland (and occasionally other EU countries) to attend the UK A-T clinics under the S2 (E112) scheme should continue after Brexit. This means that Irish families should be able to continue attending clinics as they have up to now.
We are currently seeking confirmation of this through our MP, but in the meantime must take it on trust. However, in the event that this were not the case, the A-T Society would campaign vigorously and vocally to get the right reinstated.
Brexit should not directly affect any of our other work, though of course a down-turn in the economy may have a knock-on effect on our ability to raise income. However our current financial position should enable us to maintain all our current services.
In the longer term, there is a risk that particularly a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would have a negative impact on the whole medical research sector in the UK. This is something that all charities like ours are concerned about and which we are addressing through our active participation in the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC). You can find more information in our collective position statement at http://bit.ly/AMRConBrexit.