THE British Medical Association (BMA) yesterday urged all Conservative Party leadership candidates to commit to excluding the NHS from any post-Brexit trade deals.
In a letter sent on the same day that the US President Donald Trump told a press conference that the NHS would be ‘on the table’ in trade talks, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul asked all candidates to commit to specific safeguards protecting the health service from dangers posed by Brexit.
The GMB commented: ‘At a time when GMB is campaigning to revoke section 75 and stop privatisation, President Trump is just waiting to get his hands on our NHS.
‘There’s a very real danger Conservatives will just hand it over to him in a trade deal.’
Trump told reporters on Tuesday 4th May, ‘When you’re dealing with trade, everything is on the table, so the NHS or anything else, or a lot more than that.
‘But everything will be on the table, absolutely.’
By Wednesday morning (5th June) Trump rowed back and told ITV’s Good Morning Britain, ‘I don’t see it being on the table.’ He added that the NHS was something he would ‘not consider part of trade’.
But David Henig – former trade negotiator for the US government, and UK director of the European Centre for International Political Economy – told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme that ‘Trump was right first time. Everything is potentially up for grabs in a trade agreement.’
He explained that it would be up to the government to decide which NHS services could be provided by private suppliers and which would be served by the public sector.
But, if an element was opened up to private tenders, ‘the US and other countries would want access’.
Henig said the biggest issue between the countries over healthcare was the price of drugs, as the NHS pays significantly less to pharmaceutical companies than the US.
Current rules allow foreign firms to bid for NHS contracts and a subsidiary of the US company United Health is among private groups which have already successfully done so.
Labour leader Corbyn told the anti-Trump rally in Whitehall yesterday, ‘We would not allow Brexit to open up our precious, wonderful NHS to private American companies to come in and take it over.’
Anna Athow, London Region BMA deputy chair, pointed out to News Line that ‘The NHS is already in fact being sold off as we speak and being privatised from within.
‘The former head of UnitedHealth Group, Simon Stevens, now the CE of NHS England, is leading the drive to sell off billions of NHS land and assets. This was part of his Five Year Forward View plan of 2014.
‘NHSE is also spearheading the biggest hidden plan to rapidly privatise the NHS from within, by forcing through the imposition of giant Integrated Care Systems and Integrated Care Providers all over England.
‘These are run along the lines of American style Accountable Care organisations, which make their money on the principle of “the less care you give, the more money you make.”
‘The January imposition of new GP contract with the agreement of the BMA is at the centre of this.
‘So far, the Labour Party and the trade unions have not said a word to expose the meaning of “integrated care systems and providers” and that it means profit-making American-style healthcare in Britain, ripe for takeover by US health insurance companies like UnitedHealth.
‘All the unions and the labour movement should be wising up to NHSE’s plan and organise to stop them.
‘This issue will be raised at the upcoming BMA annual conference in June.’