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.

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


We are working closely with several external collaborators including:


Brexit, health & me: Educating young people on the links between politics and healthcare

Our team has been working with Shout Out UK to produce a documentary exploring the perspectives, hopes and expectations for health and the NHS in the aftermath of Brexit.

The documentary is freely accessible on Shout Out UK’s learning portal along with helpful resources and a quiz pack. These resources are popular with school teachers and youth leaders, for teaching pupils how democracy and the media works.

The ‘Brexit, Health & Me’ pack will be provided free to over one thousand schools in the UK to engage students following A Level Politics courses and similar courses in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and for general civic education. The pack is perfect for home learning, which is still the norm for the vast majority of secondary school students at present.

Register for free and access the course here: https://education.shoutoutuk.org/

Tamara Hervey, Natalia Miernik and James C. Murphy address the enforceability of citizens' rights through the UK courts, EU Law Analysis Blog (Steve Peers), May 2020

Tamara Hervey works with Sheffield Law School UG students, Natalia Miernik and James C. Murphy, to address how citizens' rights, as outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement, are enforceable through the UK courts on Steve Peers' EU Law blog.

Briefing for Cancer Research UK, UK-EU Negotiations and Clinical Research: Cancer Research UK Recommendations, May 2020

Tamara Hervey discusses Brexit, the impact of Covid-19 on the NHS and how well the UK and EU member states have handled the pandemic, The UK in a Changing Europe Podcast, April 2020

Shout Out UK trailer

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. 

Policy analysis/briefings 

Briefing for NHS Confederation: Analysis of the Withdrawal Agreement concerning access to cross-border healthcareand related rights post-transition, September 2020

Briefing for The UK in a Changing Europe: Post-Brexit Trade Negotiations and Health Governance, July 2020

Briefing for NHS Confederation: Comparison of the EU and UK negotiating draft legal texts concerning access to cross-border healthcare and related rights post-transition, July 2020

Briefing for Cancer Research UK, UK-EU Negotiations and Clinical Research: Cancer Research UK Recommendations, May 2020

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 worked as Specialist Adviser to House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee on a Correspondence from Chair to Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, released 31 March 2020

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 

Schalkwyk, M. C. I., et al,  'Risks to Health and the NHS in the post-Brexit Era', (2020), British Medical Journal

Fahy, N., et al., 'Assessing the Potential Impact on Health of the UK's Future Relationship agreement with the EU: Analysis of the Negotiating Positions', (2020), Health Economics, Policy and Law

Hervey, T., & De Ruijter, A., 'The Dynamic Potential of European Union Health Law', (2020) European Journal of Risk Regulation

Phillips, A. N., et al., 'Brexit and Biobanking: GDPR Perspectives' chapter summary, in Individual Rights, Public Interest and Biobank Research - Article 89 GDPR and European Legal Responses, (Springer, forthcoming 2020)

​Schalkwyk, M. C. I., et al,  'Assessing the Health Effects of a No-deal Brexit, (2019), British Medical Journal

Fahy, N., et al., 'How Will Brexit Affect Health Services in the UK? An Updated Evaluation', (2019), The Lancet

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 Wood, 'Our Trade Deals Will Impact Health Access Across Europe', The UK in a Changing Europe Blog, July 2020

​Mark Flear, 'EU joint procurement and how the UK’s delayed participation undermines the NHS and risks lives',The UK in a Changing Europe Blog, March 2020

​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

Ivanka Antova & Mark Flear, 'Health and Brexit: voices from NI', QUB Policy Engagement Blog, December 2019

​Tamara Hervey writes on the findings from our ethnographic fieldwork in Northern Ireland and England, The Conversation, December 2019

​Tamara Hervey & Martin Mckee, 'The Withdrawal Agreement Bill and “Do No Harm” to health', British Medical Journal opinion section, October 2019

​Mark Flear, 'Brexit and the metaphor of 'Bullshit', Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) blog, September 2019

​Tamara Hervey, 'How Can Legal Scholars Study Cultures Far From their Own, SLSA Blog, August 2019

Mark Flear, Stuart Elborn & Damian Downey, ‘Implications of “no deal” Brexit for orphan and paediatric medicines’,  British Medical Journal Opinion blog, July 2019

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

​Tamara Hervey & John Middleton, ‘Health in future UK trade deals’, British Medical Journal opinion blog, April 2019

Conference papers

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

​European Consortium for Political Research Conference, Warsaw, September 2019 - Can Elite Institutions be deliberatively Democratic? The Case of the European Medicines Agency’s Public Hearing on Valproate

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

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

​SLSA Conference, Edinburgh, April 2019 - Exploring Legitimacy of Health Governance after Brexit through Law and Language: Methodological Reflections


Mark Fear et al. warns that Brexit threatens the UK's ability to respond to Covid-19 and future pandemics, The Guardian, March 2020

​​In this co-authored piece, Mark Flear and others discuss how the UK now lies outside the EMA’s rapid authorisation mechanism for pandemic vaccines and medicines for treatment, and the potential consequences for the UK's efforts to combat Covid-19.

Mark Flear is asked: can the UK counter Coronavirus without the EU?, televised interview with France 24 Live, March 2020

​Speaking directly to France 24 Live, Mark Flear discusses the possible risks for the UK and its European neighbours entailed by the UK now being outside the European Medicines Agency.

Tamara Hervey discusses Brexit, the impact of Covid-19 on the NHS and how well the UK and EU member states have handled the pandemic, The UK in a Changing Europe Podcast, April 2020

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

​Tamara Hervey interviewed in the article 'Healthcare top issue in UK general election, says professor', Xinhua, November 2019

Tamara Hervey was quoted in the article 'Brexit uncertainty leaves science under threat as general election looms', Chemistry World, November 2019

​Tamara Hervey was quoted in the article 'HIV positive in Spain could lose healthcare post-brexit', Reuters, October 2019

Tamara Hervey warns cost of kidney treatment in EU could soar if no-deal Brexit, The Star, September 2019

Tamara Hervey's co-authored article features in news broadcast on the impact of no-deal Brexit on medicines, BBC Breakfast, September 2019

​Tamara Hervey adds her signature to the letter 'A no-deal Brexit under Boris Johnson remains a threat to public health', The Guardian, September 2019

UACES Annual Conference, Lisbon, September 2019 - The NHS, Brexit and the ‘Left Behind’

Project reports

Project Report August 2020

Project report February 2020

Project report August 2019

Past events

Event - Law Through a Lens: Brexit, Health and Me 

Wednesday 29th April 2020 from 17.00 - 18.00

Participate in a discussion with staff and students about how legal and policy research in the University of Sheffield - including undergraduate and postgraduate student research - contributes to real world problems. 

Tammy Hervey

Professor Tamara Hervey, School of Law, University of Sheffield

Mark Flear

 Dr. Mark Flear, School of Law, Queen's University Belfast

Ivanka Antova

Dr. Ivanka Antova, School of Law, Queen's University Belfast

Natalia Miernik

​Natalia Miernik, School of Law


A world top-100 university

We're a world top-100 university renowned for the excellence, impact and distinctiveness of our research-led learning and teaching.