Brexit: What does it mean for collaboration?

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Brexit: What does it mean for collaboration? is part of a series of briefings produced by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) outlining key information on topics surrounding Brexit negotiations and beyond. 

Sharing data and expertise

  • Data sharing between Europe and the UK is essential for public health, medical research and ensuring patient safety.
  • Sharing information also leads to a greater understanding of rare conditions and will help treatment progress in the future.
  • The UK needs to continue to share expertise and information with colleagues in Europe, otherwise patients in the UK will no longer benefit from networks based across the continent and vice versa.
  • If the network bases in the UK are relocated, the UK could lose experts who might choose to relocate with them.

RCP recommendations

  • To ensure that patients in the UK and across Europe have access to the best treatment and knowledge available, and that clinicians are supported in developing their knowledge of rare diseases, the UK should continue to contribute knowledge to – and take the lead in – European Reference Networks.
  • The UK should continue to harmonise its data protection regulations with Europe to facilitate cross-border collaboration for the treatment of rare diseases.
  • The UK must retain the general data protection regulation (GDPR) and harmonise legislation on data sharing with the EU to enable it to be considered equivalent to EU regulation.