Protesters fear trade deal with US will 'carve open' health service
American companies could bid for any NHS contract under new agreement
Sunday 13 July 2014
Hundreds of people marched on the European Commission offices in London yesterday to protest against a free-trade deal being negotiated with the United States that some claim could lead to the privatisation of the NHS.
War on Want, which organised the demonstration, claimed that more than 1,000 people contributed to a "lively carnival atmosphere" at the event, held on a day of action against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). There were also protests in Birmingham, Cambridge and Edinburgh.
The deal between the EU and US is backed by the three main parties, which claim that removing tariffs will boost the European economy and create jobs, leaving the Greens the only parliamentary party against the deal. However Labour has expressed concern that the NHS could be "carved open" by US healthcare firms who some believe would have the power to bid for any NHS contract under the terms of the treaty.
Molly Scott Cato, a Green MEP for the South-west, said part of the problem was that the treaty was very technical. "The point of the day of action is to raise the profile of a negotiation that has largely taken place in secret and is sufficiently arcane that it does not catch the public imagination," she said.
Some countries have taken steps to protect their state-run health services, but Ms Scott Cato said it did not appear that the UK had done so. "I have not seen clear evidence that the Government has promised to keep any commitment to preserve the NHS from competition under the TTIP," she said.
A letter from Ignacio Garcia Bercero, director of the US and Canada division of the European Commission, to Labour MP John Healey, chairman of the all-party group on the deal, said that public health services would be "safeguarded" under the treaty. But Mr Healey said this simply confirmed "the NHS can be fully protected", rather than it had been.
"I totally understand and share fears of campaigners for the future of the NHS," he said. "But I see our task together now as campaigners is to hold the EU chief negotiator to his word and force [Prime Minister David] Cameron to back the same public service protections."
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "There is no suggestion the TTIP negotiations could be used to... advance [NHS] privatisation."
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Ben Affleck asked TV chiefs to hide slave-owning ancestry, new hacked Sony emails published by Wikileaks claim
- 3 Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 One Direction: Louis Tomlinson launching his own record label, has already 'signed two acts'
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
Ben Affleck asked TV chiefs to hide slave-owning ancestry, new hacked Sony emails published by Wikileaks claim
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...
£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...