Brexit and insulin supplies
As most people are aware, all human and analogue insulins are made outside the UK and only pork insulin is made in the UK. It is understandable that people have concerns about insulin supplies as a result the UK leaving the European Union (Brexit). The insulin manufacturers have stated that they already have stockpiles in the UK and this is more than the normal 6 weeks’ supply recommended by the Government. They have also set up alternative delivery routes into the UK.
They are urging people not to stockpile insulin or any other diabetes medication, themselves because this disrupts supplies for everyone and could put some people at risk of not being able to get their insulin. However, it is recommended that people reorder their insulin and other medicine supplies early in case there are local delays.
Reassurances from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society have issued a statement to confirm that “protecting patient care, supporting the pharmacy workforce, and ensuring the continuity of medicines supply will continue to be high priorities for 2021…”Having sought and received assurances from the UK Government, devolved governments, the pharmaceutical industry and others on plans to sustain the supply of medicines following the Brexit transition period while we will continue to monitor the situation in the short-term, the organisation’s focus for 2021 will be on the medium to long-term plans for pharmaceutical care.”
Post Brexit changes
Perhaps it is difficult to see at the present time, but there will come a time when we can safely travel abroad again. We are all aware that the UK has left the EU but because of the pandemic, perhaps we are not as aware of the changes as we would otherwise have been…
The changes affect us all, but some are particularly important for people with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, so below is a brief outline of the key changes.
EHIC and GHIC – for travel within most European countries we have previously had a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This remains valid until it runs out and then you have to apply for a free Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Just like an EHIC, it is possible to apply for this new card on behalf of yourself, but also your spouse/ partner, your children (under 16) and other family members. However, you and each person on the application must meet the nationality and residency conditions which basically are focused on making sure that you and they are UK citizens.
You get a GHIC card by applying on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-ehic-european-health-insurance-card/ Be aware that there are some websites that try to ‘sell’ these cards, so do not fall for this, the official cards are free.
A still valid EHIC or the new GHIC enables you to benefit from prompt, largely free health services in the 27 countries which are part of the European Union but from 1st January 2021, neither a GHIC nor most EHICs will cover you in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. When visiting these countries, you must make sure your travel insurance covers you for healthcare cover.
NOT a replacement for travel insurance – it is important to remember that the GHIC (or valid EHIC) is NOT an alternative to travel insurance. It helps you to access types of healthcare quickly and usually free at the point of delivery but not all countries offer the same free services that you would receive on the NHS so you could have to pay for some services. In addition, travel insurance is still needed for many reasons including getting you home following an injury, illness or specialist treatment for existing health conditions, such as diabetes.
Just a reminder too, that you need to check that any travel insurance you take out, does cover your pre-existing health conditions and this is not always the case with insurance offered by travel agents.
- You need at least 6 months on your passport to travel.
- Your passport must be no older that10 years, even if it has 6 months or more left on it.
- You can apply online for a new passport at: https://www.gov.uk/apply-renew-passport and the cost is £75.50.
- A paper application form can be obtained from a Post Office and the cost for this is £85.00.