1 February 2019

Health Governance after Brexit: Law, Language and Legitimacy

UK and EU Flags being separated

Project start date: February 2019

Project duration: 2 years

Funding awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council

Follow the project on Twitter @brexithealthlaw

Project Information

Professor Tamara Hervey, from the University of Sheffield’s School of Law, is leading a two-year project with Queen’s University Belfast looking at post-Brexit governance in an area that was critical in the referendum debates: health and the NHS. The project is part of the ESRC's Governance after Brexit programme.

The project team is Professor Hervey; Dr Matthew Wood (University of Sheffield's Department of Politics) and Dr Mark Flear (Queen's University Belfast's School of Law); and Dr Ivanka Antova (Queen's University Belfast's School of Law).

Guided by co-producers from the health policy sector, we are analysing the implications for health and the NHS of new post-referendum legal texts as they emerge. We are also gathering views from the public in the North of England and Northern Ireland using ‘hit and run’ street conversations – a novel form of ethnographic research.

Project Aims

We are comparing the legal language, the elite language used in health contexts, and the language of the public, focusing on metaphors and stories, to uncover the extent to which post-Brexit health governance can be said to be legitimate.


We are working closely with several external collaborators including:


The Shout Out UK trailer for Brexit, Health and Me is now here featuring the work of Professor Hervey; Dr Matthew WoodDr Mark Flear and Dr Ivanka Antova. This film follows this project's research on Brexit and how it is going to impact our NHS. 

Register online for the screening

Brexit, Health and Me poster

Health and the NHS remain critical to public and elite understandings of EU membership and what will be possible outside of the EU. We are studying the unfolding post-Brexit legal settlement to see its impact on health, and what experts and the public think about its meaning and significance.

Professor Tamara Hervey

Policy analysis/briefings 

Briefing note for Cancer Research UK, Cooperative relationships for bio-medical science post-Brexit: the legal landscape, February 2020  

Briefing note for the British Medical Association, The Withdrawal Agreement and the Future EU-UK relationship, February 2020

Briefing Paper on EHIC rights of Northern Ireland Born Irish Citizens,2019

Briefing for Kidney Care UK Brexit's implications for dialysis poster, August 2019

Briefing for Kidney Care UK Post Brexit Dialysis Scenario, 2019

Briefing for Kidney Care UK Dialysis Abroad After Brexit: Summary, August 2019

Briefing for Kidney Care UK Dialysis Abroad After Brexit: Detailed Analysis

Briefing for Kidney Care UK: Concern for dialysis patients who wish to travel in Europe after Brexit

Evidence sessions

Tamara Hervey's evidence session at the Joint Committee for Health of the Oireachtas, 6 November 2019

Tamara Hervey's opening statement for the Joint Committee for Health of the Oireachtas, 6 November 2019

Academic outputs 

Assessing the Health Effects of a No-deal Brexit (BMJ article)

How will Brexit affect health services in the UK? An updated evaluation, 2019 (Lancet article)

'Brexit and Biobanking: GDPR perspectives' chapter summary

Flear, M. L., & Mac Sithigh, D. ‘Northern Irish Legal Education After Brexit’ (2019) The Law Teacher

Flear, M. L., Ruijter, A., & McKee, M., 'Coronavirus shows how UK must act quickly before being shut out of Europe’s health protection systems' (2019), British Medical Journal

Flear, M. L. & Ruijter, A., 'Guest Editorial to the Symposium on European Union Governance of Health Crisis and Disaster Management: Key Norms and Values, Concepts and Techniques' (2019) European Journal of Risk Regulation

Schmidt, V. & Wood, M., 'Conceptualizing throughput legitimacy: Procedural mechanisms of accountability, transparency, inclusiveness and openness in EU governance' (2019) Public Administration

Blog posts

Matt Flear wrote a blog post on Brexit and the metaphor of 'Bullshit' for the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) blog in September 2019

Ivanka and Mark published a piece titled ‘Health and Brexit: voices from NI on the QUB Policy Engagement blog in December 2019

Tamara Hervey, ‘How can legal scholars study cultures far from their own?’, 2019 (published on the SLSA blog)

Tamara Hervey and Martin Mckee wrote a blog post for the British Medical Journal Opinion section on The Withdrawal Agreement Bill and “Do No Harm” to health in October 2019

Stuart Elborn, Mark Flear, and Damian Downey, ‘Implications of “no deal” Brexit for orphan and paediatric medicines’, 2019 (published in the BMJ Opinion blog)

Tamara Hervey and Steve Peers, ‘What might have happened in an alternate universe: the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Implementation Bill (‘WAB’)’, 2019 (published in the EU Law Analysis blog)

Tamara Hervey and John Middleton, ‘Health in future UK trade deals’, 2019 (published in The BMJ Opinion blog)

Tamara Hervey wrote a piece on keyfindings from our ethnographic fieldwork in Northern Ireland andEngland, The Conversation, December 2019

Olivier J. Wouters, Tamara Hervey, Martin McKee, Brexit and the European Medicines Agency What Next for the Agency and UK Drug Regulators?, JMA Health Forums, 2019

Conference papers

Can Elite Institutions be deliberatively Democratic? The Case of the European Medicines Agency’s Public Hearing on Valproate 

CLC Conference, Perugia, Italy 2019 - Taking back control (of our health): The reponsibilised UK citizen and post-Brexit health governance, CLC 2019, University of Perugia

Copenhagen Conference June 2019, Healthcare and the Fate of Social Europe - Health ‘Brexternalities’: The Brexit effect on health and health care outside the EU: abstract

NMHRC Sheffield 2020 notes for Studying Experience and Marginalisation in post-Brexit Healthcare

SLSA Conference, 2019 - Exploring Legitimacy of Health Governance after Brexit through Law and Language: methodological reflections


Professor Tamara Hervey warns cost of kidney treatment in EU could soar if no-deal Brexit, The Star, Sheffield

Professor Tamara Hervey was quoted in the Reuters article ‘HIV positive in Spain could lose healthcare post-brexit’ in October 2019

Professor Tamara Hervey was quoted in an article in Chemistry World on Science being under threat by Brexit uncertainty prior to the 2019 elections in November 2019

Healthcare top issue in UK general election, says professor Tamara Hervey, November 2019, Xinhua

Professor Tamara Hervey's co-authored article features in BBC news 

Guardian letter: 'A no-deal Brexit under Boris Johnson remains a threat to public health'

Mark Flear warns that access to the EU's health security system will be vital for Britain in dealing with Coronavirus, Daily Telegraph, February 2020

Professor Tamara Hervey addresses the possible future relationship for the European Medicines Agency and UK drug regulators, JAMA Health Forum, February 2020

Project reports

Project report August 2019

Project report February 2020

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