TTIP and the Scottish NHS
UK Ministers have admitted the NHS is still on the table as part of secretive talks over the controversial US-EU trade deal, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It could see it opened up to American corporations. UK trade minister Lord Livingston said: “This is a very big prize.”
This after weeks of pleading from Better Together about how the NHS was a non-issue in the referendum campaign.
Willie Wilson, from NHS for Yes, said:
“If the Scottish NHS is not exempt from TTIP it will be a disaster. The Scottish Government has so far protected the NHS as much as it can within the limits of the Scottish budget. But TTIP will mean we won’t have a choice, we will be forced to open up NHS services to multinational companies in Europe and America. If we refuse we can be sued by corporate lawyers in secret intra-state courts. The UK Government’s position is now absolutely clear: they are not seeking exemptions from TTIP, and therefore we can only protect the Scottish NHS from privatisation by voting Yes.
In many ways the UK government’s position shouldn’t be surprising: 221 MP’s or Lords have directorships or shareholdings in private health companies. Over 10% of NHS services in England are already out to tender to private companies, whereas there’s less than 1% of private services tendered in the Scottish NHS. In Scotland we want the NHS in public hands but it’s increasingly clear that the UK government is the major liability in achieving that aim.”
Today Yes campaigners claimed that a future Scottish Government would be forced to privatise the Scottish NHS if there is a No vote. At the daily ALLYES morning press conference NHS Yes and other campaigners set three questions for Labour and the No campaign:
Will the Labour Party commit to exemption of the NHS from TTIP?
Given the scale of market competition already taken place in the English NHS, is the No campaign confident that an exemption request would be successful?
If the answer to either of the first two questions are No, and the Tories win the next general election, how can the No campaign be confident that the Scottish NHS can be protected in the event of a No vote?”
Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, said: “The government is allowing faceless bureaucrats in Brussels and Washington to make the sell-off of our treasured NHS permanent. The French have already used their veto to exclude the French film industry. There is no reason why the British government can’t do the same to protect the NHS. The people of this country didn’t vote for selling-off our NHS.”
Common Weal have produced a briefing document on TTIP and the Scottish NHS which can be accessed here.
You can view Jeane Freeman on independence and the NHS here: