More than half (54%) of the surveyed healthcare industry professionals indicated that their sentiment towards Brexit had become more negative. The largest proportion of them were based in the UK and the EU, with 71% and 70% recorded respectively in GlobalData’s report Thematic Intelligence: Brexit and the Healthcare Industry 2023 (Figure 1).

A Brexit survey conducted previously by GlobalData in 2021 found that the majority (60%) of the respondents had a more neutral sentiment towards Brexit at that point. It has been more than three years since the UK departed from the EU; the sentiment shift perhaps suggests that the final Brexit agreement and the development afterwards did not pave a smooth and optimistic path to the UK’s healthcare industry. In this survey, industry stakeholders expressed concerns over the negative impact brought by Brexit on the future of the industry.

Policy and measurements had been established to minimise the negative influence of Brexit such as the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), UK Medicines and Medical Devices Act, and the extended Horizon Europe Guarantee scheme to provide support to Horizon Europe applicants from the UK. However, the thematic report revealed the industry professionals were not all satisfied with the current circumstances in the industry. For example, only 8% of respondents believed the current UK-EU deal is the best outcome of Brexit while others believed in other deals or models; and among them, 33% of them believed that “no Brexit” is the best outcome to the UK’s healthcare industry (Figure 2).

Q: Do you think that the achieved EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement is the best outcome of Brexit? Please select the outcome that you would consider the best given the current political and economic climate.
Source: GlobalData
© GlobalData

The respondents also remarked that various aspects of the UK’s healthcare sector have worsened post-Brexit, and over 70% of them thought that the UK would not remain an attractive destination for healthcare research and manufacturing after Brexit. Industry professionals also emphasised their concerns on various impactful factors post-Brexit, such as changes and complexity of new industry regulations, challenges in attracting talents for life science sectors, disruption to drug and material supply chain across the EU, and difficulties in accessing funding for research and manufacturing.

Brexit was a lengthy process and challenge to the UK’s healthcare industry and its impacts are still observable today. The industry’s confidence is at risk especially since other ongoing macro events such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and the global inflation crisis are likely bringing additional stress to the UK’s already-shaken healthcare sector.

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By GlobalData