The start of 2021 has understandably been dominated by the continued coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 1st of January 2021 also marked the date the UK left the EU, and this brings changes for all of us in the UK both in our personal and business lives.
On Christmas Eve, Boris Johnson proudly announced that a UK-EU trade deal had been agreed, containing rules for living, working and trading together and this agreement took effect from 11pm on 31st December.
At Designated Medical, our goal is to help our consultants manage and grow their private practices, providing the support needed to enable them to succeed whilst also reducing the stress and pressure of working in private practice. As part of this commitment, we regularly share our expertise and knowledge, aiming to offer helpful guidance on best practice.
We have been reviewing how Brexit affects our business and we thought it would be helpful to share our understanding with our consultants too, in the hope that it may help you understand the key changes. We are by no means experts on this subject and the information we provide is gleaned from our research using the information provided by the Government on their website.
We would welcome your feedback and comments to help us all gain a deeper understanding of the important changes.
The UK-EU trade deal is a 1200-page document, (the summary is 34 pages long) describing exactly what has been agreed which I doubt many of us will find the time or motivation to read, but we do need to assess how Brexit affects the private healthcare sector. The full document can be accessed here.
Brexit seems to affect the private healthcare sector in three main ways as follows:-
- Importing/exporting medical supplies and devices
- Sharing data
Importing and exporting medical supplies and devices
As we were made very aware in the run-up to Christmas, the borders between the UK and the EU are vital to the flow of goods and any changes risk problems developing quickly.
When France shut their borders on Sunday 20th December, a queue of over 2000 lorries very quickly formed and there is a lot of anxiety that this could happen in the coming weeks and months as a result of the new rules regarding the import and export of goods.
In the private healthcare sector, we rely on importing drugs, vaccines, medical equipment, and medical supplies and so this is an area we need to think about carefully.
Obviously, the news of the Oxford vaccine is phenomenal, and it is wonderful that we have been able to create this vaccine in the UK so quickly, but many of our medicines and medical supplies are imported into the UK and the Brexit deal changes the way this is managed. Most of us will not be directly involved, but we will be reliant on our suppliers to ensure that supplies are able to reach us in a timely manner. Suppliers will be responsible for handling the change of process and the additional administration involved, but we also have a responsibility to make sure we have access to the supplies needed to deliver care to our patients.
EU citizens currently living in the UK by 31st December 2020 will see no change to their rights and status until 30 June 2021. To continue living in the UK after June, EU citizens can apply to the UK settlement scheme. For EU citizens moving to the UK after 1st January 2021, they may be required to apply for a Visa.
Employers will be able to recruit “Skilled workers” from the EU after 1st January, but it will not be possible to recruit from outside the UK for jobs offering a salary below £20,480 or jobs at a skill level below “RQF3” which we understand is equivalent to A level. For some jobs in health and education and also for people at the start of their careers, there are different salary rules.
To understand more about the required skill level and salary levels read more here.
There is a documented process to follow to employ a skilled worker and you will also need to pay a licence fee between £536 and £1,476 depending on whether you are classified as a small sponsor or charity, or a medium or large sponsor.
In summary, as business owners, doctors and employers, we need to consider how Brexit affects us and ensure we are aware of the additional responsibilities it places upon us.
As mentioned earlier, this is not our area of expertise and we are approaching this as a business, ensuring our own company is compliant, and also as a service provider to consultants working in private healthcare.
We want to make sure we are well informed, and we thought it would be helpful to others for us to summarise and share our understanding along with references to key supporting information.
As always, we welcome your feedback and comments, especially if you have a deeper understanding than we do. If we receive a significant amount of information from readers that we think will be valuable to others, we will review and update this article and re-post.
We look forward to hearing from you.