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LABOUR today demanded an amendment to the Queen’s Speech to rule out privatisation of the NHS in any future trade deals with the US.
Before today’s “regret motion” vote on the speech, which took place after the Morning Star went to print, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth warned that privatisation of the NHS has “doubled” under the Tories and could increase under future “Trump-style deals.”
He condemned the Tory government’s Queen’s Speech for failing to pledge protection for the NHS from further privatisation.
MPs were set to vote an amendment to the speech which expresses regret that the new programme for government does not repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 — failing to “restore a publicly provided and administered [NHS].”
It was tabled by Mr Ashworth, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour MP Nicholas Brown and Green MP Caroline Lucas.
Mr Ashworth said: “The truth is that, thanks to the Tory reorganisation of the NHS — where billions of pounds of health contracts are privatised every year — the NHS is on the table in any trade deal with Donald Trump.
“The Tory sell-out deal will see US corporates running more NHS services while big US pharmaceutical companies force our NHS to pay more for vital medicines.
“The only way to protect our NHS is to bin the Tory privatisation rules and restore a public NHS for all.”
Earlier, during Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Corbyn said that NHS privatisation under successive Tory governments had “more than doubled to £10 billion.”
There were currently 20 NHS contracts out to tender, he said.
Ahead of the vote, Keep Our NHS Public chairman Dr Tony O’Sullivan said: “Despite misleading claims to be ‘the party of the NHS’, the Conservative record in government highlights consistent undermining of the NHS.
“The proposals on health in the Queen’s Speech are nothing more than electioneering.
“Promises of more NHS funding by 2023-24 fail to compensate for the accumulated funding deficit of the last 10 years of over £30bn per year.
“Already under this government, current spending on NHS services contracted to the private sector has risen to 18 per cent of the annual budget — up 23 per cent over the last five years.
“Their proposals mean the privatisation trend is likely to further increase.”
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