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CAMPAIGNERS against NHS privatisation gathered outside Parliament today as they launched a week of action to spread the message that the health service is not for sale.
The protest, organised by We Own It, Global Justice Now, Keep Our NHS Public and Health Campaigns Together, highlights the risk of a Tory-Trump trade deal.
A protester dressed as US President Donald Trump tucked into a mock cake representing the NHS laid on a table while another wearing a Boris Johnson mask offered him slices.
Global Justice Now’s Heidi Chow said: “The government has said that the NHS is not on the table for a trade deal, but we know about what the government says: they’re not trustworthy. We certainly don’t trust them with our NHS.
“We know that there have already been six rounds of informal negotiations between the UK government and the US government.”
Global Justice Now made a freedom of information request to see the notes from the six meetings, but it was refused. Following an appeal to the Information Commissioner, the government released notes, but with most of the text redacted.
Ms Chow said: “We don’t believe that’s what democracy looks like. If the NHS is not on the table, why can’t they show us the papers?
“We’ve also heard from Channel 4 Dispatches that in addition to these six meetings, there are also five meetings that have gone on between the UK government and big pharmaceutical companies in the US.”
She warned that negotiation objectives were to privatise the service and create a clause barring future governments from returning it to public ownership.
“The US government want to have more market access for high-priced US drugs,” Ms Chow added.
“They want to attack regulations in our system so that US drugs can come into our markets, forcing our NHS to buy overpriced drugs, which are already unsustainable for the NHS budgets.
“We know that, in spite of everything the government has said, high drug prices and the NHS are on the table. But I believe that as we come together, it is something we can put an end to and say no to a trade deal with Trump.”
More actions will take place across the country this week. Full details can be found online at weownit.org.uk.
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