Parliament debates the NHS as part of future trade deals

Press release on behalf of Keep Our NHS Public – for IMMEDIATE use (22 July 2019)

At 4.30pm today the government will debate a Parliamentary petition on whether the NHS will form part of a future trade deal after Brexit. The petition has attracted over 160,000 signatures.

However, a petition Keep Our NHS Public launched in partnership with during President Trump’s state visit entitled Keep our NHS out of US trade deals on the same subject immediately went viral and has gained more than four times that number (over 680,000 signatures to date) making it one of the most popular petitions have ever seen.

On Friday the celebrity Stephen Fry added his backing to our petition and this message by sharing a link to it at the end of his most recent YouTube update (and later sharing the link on Twitter). This video update compared the American system with the NHS, highlighting the perils of unaffordable healthcare.

With the prospect of a no-deal Brexit an increasing possibility, the future of the NHS is at stake. The government have not ruled out some sort of NHS trade deal in the future, with a spokesperson from the Department of international trade telling Keep Our NHS Public only that:

“In regards to the US in particular, the government has been consistently clear that it is committed to negotiating an ambitious FTA with the US that maintains our high standards for businesses, workers and consumers.”

Dr Sonia Adesara, the junior doctor who started the petition on behalf of Keep Our NHS Public says:

“These petitions have shown our politicians that we are watching and we will hold them to account. We need a formal legal commitment from this government that our NHS will be kept out of all trade deals. We must watch closely what happens during the debate and over the next few weeks. If we continue to get empty statements, we will increase the pressure. We will not let our NHS be sold off to US corporations. It is precious, we will keep fighting to protect it.” 

Dr John Puntis, retired consultant paediatrician and Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public says:

“The government must specify that the NHS is completely outside of any trade deal negotiations and not just give reassurance that the NHS will not be sold to outsiders. We demand guarantees by law that the NHS remains as a public service, not as a bargaining chip in business negotiations . We demand that our Government ends the running of our NHS through commercial and competitive clinical contracts.”

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