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."
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree Group have been well es...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000 : SThree: Recruitment is a sales role ...
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...