13th May 2013
As David Cameron meets President Obama in Washington today to discuss a new EU/US trade deal, the National Health Action Party is calling on the Prime Minister to oppose an agreement that will permanently lock the NHS into private contracts. The NHA Party says it’s crucial the NHS is exempted from the global trade deal, which will be on the agenda at the G8 in June – otherwise transnational corporations will be able to target the most lucrative parts of the NHS and ensure their contracts are irreversible, making renationalisation of the NHS impossible.
Co-leader of the NHA Party, Dr Clive Peedell, said:
“The NHS is being primed for transnational investors to buy up the most lucrative parts of the healthcare system, under a legal framework which also permits them to sue the UK government in the case of any ‘backsliding’. As more and more private corporations win contracts, the situation will be fixed in an effectively irreversible international trade deal. The NHS will be stuck in a “locked-in syndrome” of increasing privatisation, making renationalisation of the NHS impossible.
“We call on the Prime Minister to ensure the NHS is exempted from this deal. There can be no excuses. Canada has exempted its health service from trade agreements that its government has signed and has safeguarded its public health system. We need to do the same.”
Yesterday, shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper repeated Labour’s pledge to repeal the Health & Social Care Act. But Dr Peedell says Labour’s promise is meaningless unless they too oppose the trade deal:
“This makes Labour’s pledge to repeal the Act (if they are elected in 2015) and defend the NHS from privatisation, a meaningless and hollow one. If the Labour party is serious about being the party of the NHS, it must act now and join the NHA party in calling for the NHS to be exempted from the US/EU Free Trade Agreement.”
For press enquiries, please contact:
Giselle Green 07767 612311
Notes to editors:
The EU/US Free Trade Agreement, which David Cameron identified as a priority in his chairing of the G8 this year, was given the go-ahead by US President Obama and EU President Barroso in January. One of the key aims of this Free Trade Agreement is to give international corporations legal rights to access governments’ public services budgets. The NHS is part of UK ‘public procurement’ and is therefore a target of “international investors” and the transnational healthcare industry.
Healthcare has been specifically mentioned as a form of trade to be included in the “harmonising regulation” of the Agreement, which aims to prevent “future trade barriers” in keeping with the demands of transnational corporations. .
The Health and Social Care Act and its secondary legislation were framed to fit with the harmonising process of the the US/EU Free Trade Agreement. This framework means that publicly funded English health services will be obliged to tender out contracts. Large transnational corporations will have a competitive advantage in the bidding process, and be in a position to weather the very low current tariffs until public sector, charity and social enterprise providers without their deep pockets are driven out of business.
A petition to exempt the NHS from the treaty has been launched. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/47102