Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (528)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

528. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if his mitigation plans will be confirmed to ensure the continuity of timely supply of radioisotopes for use in diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer in the event of a no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44584/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As part of the whole-of-government response to Brexit, the Department of Health has established dedicated structures to manage the approach to preparing for the UK’s exit from the EU. The Department, the Health Products Regulatory Authority and the HSE, with the full support of stakeholders, are implementing a comprehensive and coordinated set of preparations to ensure continuity of health services and continued supply of medicines and medical devices in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Preparations included the establishment of a Radiopharmaceutical Resilience Advisory Group in the HSE's National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP). This Group has devised plans, in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, to mitigate against the potential issues in relation to the supply of radioisotopes and the resulting impact on patient services in the 23 hospitals involved.

The Radiopharmaceutical Resilience Advisory Group issued advice in ‘Guidance for Nuclear Medicine Facilities and Nuclear Medicine Services in the event of Brexit’ . The document includes advice on contingency plans for hospitals, including hospitals that provide care for children. The advice includes avoiding the delivery of technetium generators in the period immediately following Brexit, ordering larger generators, and sharing generators between hospitals in the event of supply issues.

Hospitals are also advised to consider the clinical urgency of investigations or treatments on a patient by patient basis, and to prioritise their radioisotope supply accordingly.

Along with the guidance document, there is an escalation pathway set up in the event of supply issues. Each nuclear medicine department has been requested to contact the NCCP on a daily basis during the Brexit period to inform on how their service is running and to highlight any Brexit-related issues. Any issue will be followed up immediately through a centralised approach.