Job cuts at the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency would be “a mockery” of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to turn the UK into a “science superpower”, the heads of five unions have said in a letter to the health secretary .
The regulator, which is responsible for approving treatments, including coronavirus vaccines, has been hit by a drop in funding. It is thought that between 20 and 25 percent of the MHRA’s 1,200 employees are at risk of losing their jobs.
Prospect’s secretary general and four other unions said in a letter to Health Minister Sajid Javid on Monday that there was a “danger that the quality of our regulatory decisions could suffer” as a result of the layoffs.
Continuing with the cuts would cause the UK long delays in approving new drugs and reduce the MHRA to “effectively stamping out EU regulatory decisions,” the letter continued.
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said in a statement that “the only reason the UK is now able to return to a semblance of normalcy is because of the vaccination program and the incredible work of the MHRA staff”.
“It is unbelievable that just months later, one in five of them will be fired,” he said.
In a statement last week, the MHRA said: “We announced to our staff in February that we are changing the way the Agency works.”
It added: “This transformation is a response to four challenges: the UK is leaving Europe (resulting in a reduction in the fee income we receive); our role in enabling the Life Sciences strategy; the recent Cumberlege review recommending that we focus on patients in all our activities; and financial pressure.”