No-deal Brexit could hit people trying to conceive babies by delaying flow of foreign sperm

Danish semen makes up substantial proportion of imported material

What does a no-deal Brexit mean?

People trying to conceive in Britain could suffer from delays to foreign sperm donations under a no-deal Brexit because of additional red tape, technical notices released by the government have revealed.

Danish semen made up almost half of all non-British male reproductive material imported to the UK in 2017, the paper from the Department of Health and Social Care revealed.

Some 3,000 samples from the Scandinavian nation were brought in, alongside a small number from other EU states, plus 4,000 from the US. Most of the samples were bought from commercial sperm banks.

But leaving the trade bloc without a deal would see the UK leave EU organ and tissue donation directives, which cover material including human sperm, eggs and embryos as well as transplant organs.

It came as more than 700,000 signed The Independent’s petition calling for a Final Say on any Brexit deal.

The government’s technical note added that egg and embryo imports were less common than sperm, usually fewer than 500 a year, and are “mostly from EU countries”.

The paper said: “UK licensed establishments working in this area, such as hospitals, stem cell laboratories, tissue banks and fertility clinics, would continue to work to the same quality and safety standards as they did before exit, but some would need new written agreements with relevant EU establishments.

“UK licensed establishments that import or export tissues or cells from EEA establishments would need to make written agreements with those EEA establishments to continue importing or exporting these products post-exit.

“However, this will for the most part be a minimum burden on industry. For example, UK licensed establishments that already hold an import licence to import tissues and cells from third countries will be able to use their existing written agreements with third country organisations as a template.”

An independent UK national sperm bank was launched in 2014 but attracted just nine donors in its first year.

A collaboration between the National Gamete Donation Trust and Birmingham Women’s Hospital, it ceased calling for more to join the following year, according to its website.

The technical papers also sounded a warning over supplies of medicine.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has told pharmaceutical companies they must store an extra six weeks’ worth of drugs on top of their existing stockpiles.

In a letter to NHS staff and service providers, Mr Hancock said the move was necessary for the firms “in case imports from the EU through certain routes” are affected if Theresa May fails to secure a deal with Brussels.

Steve Bates, chief executive of the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA), said the request would be “a massive challenge” for the industry.

And credit card users could be forced to pay a £166m “Brexit tax” on cross-border transactions.

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