Trade bill tomorrow could put the NHS at risk

Press release on behalf of Keep Our NHS Public – for immediate use

The Trade Bill 2019-2021 outlining how the UK would implement and police new deals, has its second reading in parliament tomorrow (20th May) and still contains no protection for the NHS. There is a real possibility that the NHS could now form part of a trade deal whilst the country is distracted with the coronavirus.

The Bill fails to give Parliament oversight of, or votes on, trade agreements; fails to improve existing and inadequate processes for Parliamentary processes; and gives the Executive unchecked powers on trade. MP Caroline Lucas is proposing an amendment to this Bill which calls for the House of Commons to decline to give a Second Reading to the Trade Bill as the Bill fails to uphold democratic scrutiny.

Campaigning organisation We Own It have partnered up with cross-party health campaigning organisation Keep Our NHS Public, and many other organisations to demand that the NHS is kept out of any future trade negotiations, and public support to this end has been very high. Indeed, a petition started by Keep Our NHS Public imploring the government to keep the NHS out of US trade deals now stands at over 1.2m signatures.

Over 5,000 people from all over Britain have written to their MP ahead of the reading tomorrow to express their concerns over the NHS forming part of any future trade deal and over 27,000 have signed a petition from campaign organisers We Own It requesting specific protections for the NHS ahead of a vote on the trade bill this Wednesday.

Dr John Puntis, Co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public and paediatrician says:

“Our precious and beloved NHS must not be ‘on the table’ in trade negotiations with the US. We don’t believe our Prime Minister when he says it isn’t. The NHS is in acute danger of being used as a pawn to be traded in US-UK trade deals, where the US is by far the stronger partner. This Trade Bill must include legal bindings that protect the NHS now and in the future from any empty promises and loopholes. Trump wants to make profits from our valuable patient data, let US-based companies take over providing some NHS services, deprive our universal and comprehensive service of its controlled drug costs and flood our markets with unhealthy food and drink. More and more private companies – especially US ones – already profit from our NHS. Keep Our NHS Public wants a complete re-nationalisation of the National Health Service. Trade – especially in health – should be in the public interest, not for private enrichment.”

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

“It’s frustrating that during this pandemic we’re still having to fight this. The trade deal is back in parliament tomorrow, and despite the promises from Johnson during the election, it offers no protections for our NHS. This crisis has shown how vital it is to have a universal public health system – we cannot allow this to be degraded through the backdoor.”

Spokespeople are available for broadcast interview. Please contact Samantha Wathen, Press Officer on [email protected] or call her on: 07776047472

Notes to editors

  1. Caroline Lucas amendment