What could Brexit mean for people with a lung condition?

We know that with Brexit fast approaching, some of you may be worried about what it might mean for you and your lung condition. Adam from the policy team is here to help explain what we know so far.

We are fast approaching the end of the ‘transition’ period, where our future relationship with the EU will change from 1 January 2021.

You may have seen media stories about potential medicine supply issues, or travel disruption related to Brexit that could be making you anxious. We’re here to set the record straight and provide you with the latest information.

We’ve been monitoring the situation closely and have been in contact with government and the NHS to understand what Brexit could mean for people with a lung condition.

How will I know if there's a shortage of my medicines?

We are not currently aware of any immediate medicines supply issues related to either leaving the EU or the current disruption at the English Channel, but we are monitoring the situation closely.

  • The NHS will let GPs and pharmacists know if there is a shortage that means they need to make any changes to your prescribed medicines. 
  • We will update this page if we hear of any issues with a particular medicine. At the moment, it looks like people with a lung condition should be able to get the medicines they need in the normal way. 
  • During the 'transition' period of leaving the EU, things may change at short notice, so please check back here for updates or call our helpline.

I'm worried about shortages

We know this is a worrying time for some people. If you’re feeling anxious because of media stories about medicine shortages, here’s what you can do:

Travelling to the EU and the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Before travelling to the EU, always check with your GP or health care professional to make sure you are well enough to travel. Always plan your travel arrangements in advance.

Travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will change from 1 January 2021. At the moment, the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) still entitles UK residents to free or reduced-cost medical treatment in these countries. But the EHIC is only valid up until 31 December 2020

If you are on home or ambulatory oxygen therapy, you will need to plan ahead to make sure you have the oxygen you need for the entirety of your trip. Discuss your needs with your health care professional, who can confirm if you meet the criteria to have these costs covered by a government scheme in the event of there not being an agreement on how health care costs abroad will work. 

Travel insurance 

Travel insurance is essential if you’re travelling overseas. Make sure you declare you have a lung condition, so you're fully covered. You may need to find a specialist travel insurance company that will cover you for your lung condition, so be prepared to shop around. The Money and Pensions Advice Service has guidance for buying travel insurance if you’re over 65 or have a pre-existing medical condition. It includes a directory of contact details of providers who specialise in providing insurance for people with serious medical conditions.

Get support from the British Lung Foundation

You can talk to us about anything – from how to manage your condition if your medicines change, to going on holiday after we leave the EU. Or just to say hello. Find out more about how we can support you.


Adam - brexit and lung conditions

Adam Croom

Adam works in our policy team. He's been working with government and the NHS to understand what Brexit could mean for people with a lung condition and provide you with the latest information.

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21 December 2020