‘Who needs experts?’ Brexit minister ignores advice over cancer fears of quitting Euratom

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PA Wire/PA Images - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Brexit minister Steve Baker appears to have a similar distain for experts as Michael Gove.

He has dismissed concerns made by Royal College of Radiologists over the impact quitting Euratom will have on cancer treatment as 'not correct'.

RCR has issued a fresh warning that anything hitting the supply and transport of radioactive isotopes widely used in scans and treatment has the potential to causes delays for patients.

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But Baker indicated the Government will push ahead with its controversial plans to pull out of the European civil nuclear regulator when Britain quits the European Union.

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'We are certainly listening to those concerns but we believe those concerns are not correct,' Baker told the Today programme. 'Medical radio isotopes are not the kind of special fissile material - plutonium, uranium - covered by Euratom.'

Told that the RCR had issued a fresh statement raising concerns about the impact of the change, he replied: 'We think that is not technically correct. Our advice is that medical radio isotopes and their import into the United Kingdom is not covered by the safeguarding provisions.'

Baker said the EU had made clear the UK would have to leave Euratom when Britain quits the bloc because it is inseparable from institutions such as the European Court of Justice.

'That's why we asked members of Parliament to vote to leave Euratom at the same time as notifying withdrawal from the European Union,' Baker said.

The RCR said many of the medical materials used in treatment reach the UK via EU-based nuclear reactors.

It said concerns remain over the disruption of supply once the UK is outside the nuclear common market, whether through higher costs, increased regulation or trade barriers.

Nicola Strickland, president of the Royal College of Radiologists, said: 'As a medical royal college, our primary goal is to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of medical services to patients who need scans and non-surgical cancer treatment.

'This is why we are calling for further clarity and dialogue on the future supply of radio isotopes.

'The Government has promised a statement on the matter. We hope that will be issued very soon and give the assurance that patients and doctors need.'

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