July 13, 2016
2 min read

Brexit unlikely to impact orthopaedic treatment, device development

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The vote in favor of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union was a shock to me.

Over time, the European Union (EU) has created challenges for several member nations. I can cite examples of regulations, laws and other decisions made by the EU Parliament and Council during the years that were acceptable to some member nations, but critical to other nations. But, it is unbelievable to me the majority of citizens in one of the largest member nations, the United Kingdom (U.K.), ultimately decided to leave the EU. I view it as a big drawback to the efforts to consolidate Europe into a large and powerful combined market.

Will Brexit influence the orthopaedic community in Europe? I hope not. Right now, I think it is unlikely to have an impact on orthopaedics within Europe and the U.K.

Per Kjaersgaard-Andersen, MD
Per Kjaersgaard-Andersen

For other opinions on this situation, read the article in this issue of Orthopaedics Today Europe in which board members David L. Hamblen, PhD, FRCS, of Glasgow, United Kingdom, and Jan A.N. Verhaar, MD, PhD, of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, discuss how Brexit may impact orthopaedics in the United Kingdom and Europe.

May impact implant costs

With everything that has transpired, if the devaluation of the British pound persists, products that are produced in the United Kingdom for the orthopaedic market, such as implants and instruments, will be cheaper and potentially, if all else stays the same, this could create a favorable economy for users of orthopaedic equipment and devices outside the United Kingdom. That depends, of course, on whether our local suppliers decide to the increase the prices of their products, a move that would eliminate the financial advantage from Brexit on the rest of Europe.

As a result of more favorable pricing structures, we also may see the increased use within Europe of high-quality orthopaedic products produced and sold in the United Kingdom.

Need for orthopaedic education

Another impact of Brexit related to the devaluation of the pound is orthopaedic education may become more expensive in the United Kingdom. Therefore, our British colleagues who require orthopaedic education may seek it within the European continent, where there are many diverse educational offerings. In general, our colleagues from the United Kingdom have long been active in the European orthopaedic community through their participation in the EFORT Congress and other meetings during the years. Hopefully, this cooperation will not diminish due the Brexit.

I do not foresee any influence on the European orthopaedic community by Brexit at this time on patient treatment, new product development or the possibility of U.K. orthopaedic surgeons being leaders in orthopaedic organizations in Europe and worldwide. The latter, in fact, may even be a situation that benefits from Brexit as everyone tries to maintain a tighter connection with the United Kingdom in the midst of this uncertainty.

Ultimately, time will tell what further surprises are in store that may impact the structure of the United Kingdom today and perhaps the rest of the EU.

Disclosure: Kjaersgaard-Andersen reports no relevant financial disclosures.