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Campaigners hand Lords 300,000-strong petition against NHS trade-offs

PUBLIC-OWNERSHIP campaigners handed in a 300,000-strong petition to the House of Lords today calling for peers to protect the NHS from any future trade deals.

The call came as peers discussed an amendment to the Trade Bill that seeks to protect NHS services from such deals, including with the United States. 

Campaigners warn that future trade deals could see international private healthcare companies being granted more opportunities to supply services and that such privatisation could be “locked in,” making it increasingly difficult for the government to reverse.

Campaigners unfurled a banner outside Parliament reading “All we want for Christmas is NHS protection from trade deals” as they delivered the petition. 

The house was expected to vote to require the government to give Parliament a say on trade negotiations, defeating the government, after the Star went to print.

We Own It campaigner Johnbosco Nwogbo said: “The time for warm words and reassurances is over. 

“Boris Johnson has consistently told us that he will take the NHS ‘off the table’ in trade deals. Now it’s time for MPs and lords to write that into law.”

More than 70 per cent of the public do not want US healthcare companies to be given increased access to NHS services, according to new polling from Survation. 

And 60 per cent of the British public want the government to have the option to bring privately run NHS services back in-house and reinstate the NHS as a fully public service.

NHS Staff Voices chairwoman Alia Butt said: “The NHS is currently suffering from the many wars it has faced as of late such as austerity, privatisation and dealing with a global pandemic while desperately underfunded.

“A trade deal with the US, however, is damaging on an entirely different level and must be vehemently rallied against.”

Global Justice Now campaigns and policy manager Jean Blaylock said: “Parliamentarians have talked about the need to protect our NHS — which has stood between us and the pandemic in the past year — from trade. 

“They have talked about how reckless it is not to ensure trade policy is aligned with climate objectives. They have highlighted the risk to food standards. 

“The government should give up on its obsession with secrecy and instead support a transparent and inclusive approach to trade which could lead to better outcomes for people and planet.”

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