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HEALTH campaigners have pledged the “fight of their lives” against any trade deal with US President Donald Trump that threatens the National Health Service as a publicly owned body.
A coalition of groups led by Keep Our NHS Public and We Own It launched a campaign today which will call on the government to pass new legislation to protect the NHS from privatisation in post-Brexit trade deals.
Last week both Boris Johnson and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss ruled out the privatisation of the NHS in any US-UK trade deal.
But private companies – including those from the US – are already allowed to participate in bids to gain contracts to provide the NHS with services, and greater access for US firms could form part of trade deals.
Approximately £9.2 billion was given to private companies in healthcare purchases last year, while companies such as Richard Branson’s Virgin Care have expressed an interest in taking over hospitals.
This has led campaigners to demand government legislation ending private contracts in the NHS before any trade deal is agreed.
They are also encouraging members of the public to write to their local MPs to demand that the government legislates to protect the NHS from the US government.
A petition to keep the NHS out of trade deals with the US, created by doctor Sonia Adesara, has gained over 700,000 signatures.
She said: “As an NHS doctor, I know how valuable our health service is.
“First and foremost, I care about my patients, and I’m seriously concerned that this could be the beginning of the end for high-quality healthcare for all in the UK.
“Opening up the NHS to US corporations would mean that the profit motive invades our NHS, patient data is up for sale, access to healthcare is rationed and we would be staring at a system, as in the US, where if you can’t pay you don’t get care.”
Labour shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said: “Make no mistake — Boris Johnson will sell off our NHS to Trump in a trade deal unless we fight back.
“The future of a public, free at the point of use NHS is at stake.
“Labour will protect a public NHS and bring forward the legislation to end privatisation.”
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