FOLLOWING the decision taken by the UK in June 2016 to leave the European Union after the Referendum vote, the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) has responded to a number of EU-related consultations, attended several meetings on the potential impact of Brexit and worked alongside partner organisations and bodies to ensure the voice of science and engineering is heard.


IPEM's commitment

IPEM remains committed to its members, regardless of where they live, and aims to promote awareness and application of professional standards and CPD regardless of EU membership. In addition, IPEM will retain a close working relationship with European organisations through participation in relevant groups and networks within the EU. At the very start of EU exit negotiations, both the UK and the EU27 articulated a commitment to continued recognition of professional qualifications.

Brexit - a personal view

Professor Stephen Keevil, a former IPEM President, has given a personal perspective on Brexit, which you can read here.


Only days after the historic vote, several IPEM members attended the Parliamentary Links Day  – the largest science event on the Parliamentary calendar organised by the Royal Society of Biology to strengthen the dialogue between the scientific community, MPs and Peers – which was debating the subject ‘Science After the Referendum: What Next?’.   

There was standing room only in the Attlee Suite at Portcullis House, which provides offices for MPs opposite the Houses of Parliament, as around 300 scientists, academics and policy-makers from across the UK came together to hear addresses from MPs, Lords and professional bodies on the topic.

Dr Anna Barnes, IPEM’s Vice President External at the time, attended another event at Portcullis House to hear “How Scientists should cope with Brexit”, where the key speaker was George Freeman MP, Chair of the Prime Minister’s Policy Board.

Rosemary Cook, IPEM's Chief Executive Officer at the time, attended the Euro Science Open Forum meeting in Manchester.

IPEM was represented at a special Science Council summit, which was held to identify the risks and opportunities to professional bodies posed by Brexit.

Professor Peter Hoskins, President Elect of IPEM at the time, attended an Institute of Physics meeting on “Brexit – Where Next for Physics in Scotland?”

Gerard Dean, a consultant clinical engineer from Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, represented IPEM at a Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) workshop, which was held to understand the implications of leaving the EU across the medicines pathway.

Dr Jemimah Eve, IPEM's Workforce Intelligence Unit Manager, attended a round table discussion, organised by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), on the potential impact of Brexit on the sector.

IPEM Fellow Sarah Allen, Head of Nuclear Medicine at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, joined a working group set up by the Institute of Physics to ensure the best outcomes for physics when the UK leaves the EU and Euratom. She will share her knowledge and expertise with regards to the issue of medical radioisotopes. The work of the group is expected to span the period of the Brexit negotiations.

The European Commission published a position paper to the EU27 countries on nuclear materials and safeguard equipment (Euratom).

The Department for Exiting the European Union published a policy paper entitled 'Collaboration on science and innovation: a future partnership'.

Dr Ian Hudson, Chief Executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), wrote to the President of IPEM in July 2017 to say the agency was working closely with the Government to analyse the best options and opportunities available for the safe and effective regulation of medicines and medical devices in the UK. He enclosed a letter from the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to the Financial Times, in which they laid out the three principles which will underpin the development of a post-Brexit regulatory system:  patients should not be disadvantaged; innovators should be able to access the UK market as quickly and simply as possible; and the UK will continue to play a leading role in both Europe and the world promoting public health.

IPEM President Professor Mark Tooley attended the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's Brexit: Science and innovation summit in February 2018, which you can read more about here. The aim of the summit was to identify the actions that need to take place to mitigate risks for the science and innovation sector associated with the UK leaving the EU and to identify the best means to exploit emerging opportunities. The results of the summit will be presented at the start of the phase-II negotiations with the EU, in order to guide the Government in its discussions. The written evidence IPEM submitted can be read below and the full transcript of the summit can be found here.

Consultation responses and statements 

House of Commons Science and Technology Committee - Brexit, Science and Innovation: Preparations for 'No-Deal' inquiry 

This inquiry was launched to explore the Government's preparedness for a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit. IPEM submitted written evidence to this from Special Interest Groups and the directors of the Science, Research and Innovation Council and the Professional and Standards Council.

Migration Advisory Committee's call for evidence on the national shortage occupation list

IPEM provided a written response to this inquiry, and the full report was published in May 2019.

House of Commons Science and Technology Committee - Brexit: Science and innovation summit inquiry 

This inquiry asked for any matters which were felt still needed to be addressed from previous inquiries to be outlined and IPEM submitted written evidence to this effect. The Government published its response to the report in May 2018. 

The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee called on the Government to explain how it will ensure there is a secure supply of medical radioisotopes post-Brexit as it published its analysis of four separate documents by the European Commission relating to Euratom.

Migration Advisory Committee call for evidence on EEA workers in the UK labour market

IPEM members contributed to this call for evidence, which was launched to advise on the economic and social impacts of the UK’s exit from the European Union and also on how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industrial strategy.

House of Commons Health Select Committee inquiry on: Brexit – medicines, medical devices and substances of human origin inquiry

IPEM members contributed written evidence to this inquiry, which was examining the regulatory arrangements needed to guarantee the safe and effective supply of medicines, medical devices and products post-Brexit.

House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: Leaving the EU - implications and opportunities for science and research 

IPEM members contributed written evidence to this inquiry, which followed two oral hearings held on the same subject within weeks of the EU Referendum vote.

House of Lords Select Committee consultation on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS

While this inquiry was consulting on the sustainability issues facing the NHS and the impact they will have over the next 15–20 years, in submitting written evidence, IPEM’s response also addressed matters pertaining to the UK leaving the EU.

House of Commons Health Select Committee on Brexit and health and social care

IPEM members again contributed written evidence to this inquiry, which focused on the priorities for health and social care in the Brexit negotiations.

Department of Health consultation on Regulations on medical exposure to ionising radiation

Members provided comprehensive written evidence to this consultation, which was seeking  views on the regulations for the transposition and implementation of the medical exposures aspects of the European Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom.

Two statements were sent from IPEM following the Referendum vote to the European Federation of Organisations for Medical Physics and to the European Alliance for Medical and Biological Engineering & Science, setting out the Institute’s commitment to continued cooperation with scientists across Europe.

Collaboration with partners 

IPEM is one of 38 professional engineering organisations, representing all disciplines of UK engineering, which have joined forces under the leadership of the Royal Academy of Engineering to provide evidence-based advice to the Government on the opportunities and risks associated with leaving the EU.  A report - Engineering a future outside the EU: Securing the best outcome for the UK – has been produced.

As a member of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), IPEM has continued to share the regular updates CaSE has been producing with the Institute’s members on what Brexit might mean for the science and engineering sector. IPEM, along with 11 other organisations, has funded a new policy officer for CaSE. The two-year role will see James Tooze involved in all aspects of policy analysis and development concerning the science and engineering community and Brexit.

IPEM supports the Science Media Centre (SMC), which aims to provide, for the benefit of the public and policymakers, accurate and evidence-based information about science and engineering through the media. The SMC produced some expert reaction to the UK vote to leave the European Union. 

As a member of CaSE, the Institute contributed to an all-member consultation on scientific regulation in a post-Brexit Britain, which set out members' concerns and priorities for the future. The dossier was made available for use within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. You can read the report here. CaSE also published a policy review to mark the anniversary of the triggering of Article 50 on 29 March 2017, which you can read here.

Impact on Workforce
In October 2017 the Workforce Intelligence Unit carried out a survey into the number of EEA and other overseas staff employed in Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering (MPCE). Invitations to complete the survey were sent to all departments, for which IPEM has a contact, providing MPCE services in the UK. While 55% of invitations were responded to, the responses covered 77% of the radiotherapy physics workforce, although responses for nuclear medicine and diagnostic radiology were more disappointing. A report of the survey is available here. The data is presented on a map of the UK. The workforce intelligence unit reminds recruiters that nuclear medicine scientist and practitioner and radiotherapy physics scientist and practitioner are listed on the National Shortage Occupation List.

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