2007 - 2020

TTIP and the Scottish NHS

nhsUK 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:

  1. Will the Labour Party commit to exemption of the NHS from TTIP?

  2. 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?

  3. 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:

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  1. ewenart says:

    Very well responded/replies – wrong questions to a non political person…he got the lack of respect he certainly deserved…well done woman!

  2. Gordon Adam says:

    Well said ma’am

  3. Adam Neilson says:

    At last – a TV ‘regular’ informing the public what the debate is really about. For two years we’ve heard Ch4, Sky, BBC, and ITV interviewers talk about ‘the Nationalists’, ‘the Nationalist campaign’, and ‘Alex Salmond, the leader of the Yes campaign’, but if the few non-policians who end up talking into a microphone or at a TV camera had done what Jane Freeman has done, by now most people would know the truth – and what Yes Scotland and the pro-Independence campaigns really are, and who is actually controlling them.

    I suppose the media’s attitude is down to it’s belief that only the Westminster elite and senior politicians at Holyrood are capable of answering questions or expressing an opinion – something which is reflected throughout the Westminster/unionist campaigns.
    Where are BT’s equivalent of Jane Freeman, Elaine C Smith, Alan Bissett, Robin McAlpine, Richard Arkless, Willie MacDonald, Mark Frankland, Philippa Whitford, and all the other ‘non-polician’ campaign speakers who address packed halls every night, all over the country ?

    There aren’t any, and I suspect that’s one of the reasons ‘our’ media would give for not covering the Yes grassroots campaign – it COULDN’T be balanced because it’s completely one-sided.

    Last week we had Yes and No supporters our High Street. The No campaign was virtually all Labour politicians – MP, MSP, and Councillors – along with their families and paid staffers.
    Up the road the Yes stall had NO politicians (as always).
    The no ‘stall’ was a 2’x2′ table with a selection of two leaflets ….. and balloons.
    We had balloons too, and a selection of around 30 leaflets and booklets from different sources – and only one of them was from the SNP !

    That’s been happening all over Scotland for many months, and ‘our’ media has ignored it all.

  4. gonzalo1 says:

    The Scottish media are heading fo their cummupence. Watch dramatic falls in their sales after all of this

  5. tartanfever says:

    Just want to pick up on the George Osbourne claim highlighted in the image. If he does come out and say directly ‘we can’t afford the welfare state’ it will be a first, but he’s said many times before that we can’t afford benefits or pensions etc etc, which amounts to fundamentally the same thing.

    Let’s add some figures to flesh this out.

    Just look at the deficit. In 2010, Osbourne claimed our annual deficit would be down to £60bn in 2014. In reality, the last 3 years have seen deficits of £120bn, £100bn, £107bn and so far this year it looks like we’re heading to around £110bn. UK borrowing has not declined in any significant way, austerity measures have not helped reduce the deficit. Every year we add our deficit to the total national debt, now somewhere north of £1.3 trillion.

    Business exports are dreadful, our EU neighbours are having it tough, which is bad news as they won’t be buying any goods. None of this is helped by a strong pound. Unemployment is falling, but tax receipts are not going up – placing a serious question on the quality of new jobs and pay.

    So the only option to reduce the deficit is by cutting public spending. Osbourne and the OBR still have a plan to see the deficit turned around into a surplus by 2019. To do that, as business is clearly not improving tax revenues, is to chop 70% of welfare spending.

    The total spend on the Welfare state benefits is around £150bn a year, including all pensions which take up £75bn of that spend. Even if Osbourne was to stop all pensions immediately it would not cover the annual deficit. Add to that Jobseekers allowance (£5bn), Housing Benefit (£16bn), Income Support (£7bn) and you might just be about covering the UK’s annual borrowing – but you have to stop these benefits right now, immediately.

    So if Osbourne does come out and in a rather straight forward fashion tell us we can’t afford the welfare state, your reaction should be ‘No S**t Sherlock !

    One other figure to bear in mind, debt interest alone costs the UK £1bn PER WEEK.

    So the next time Osbourne says there has got to be another £25bn worth of cuts, you can laugh. The reality is that for Osbourne to keep to his game plan of the UK seeing a surplus in the next few years, the cuts have to equal the national deficit, some £110bn a year.

    1. Golfnut says:

      Of course they could always try collecting some of those unpaid taxes. CAD estimates at around £170 Billion. Interestingly HMG has some 3000 investigators looking for benefit fraud but only 300 involved in tax avoidance/ evasion.

  6. I read up on TTIP recently and am worried about its consequences for the private sector. I can see how it would be difficult and expensive under TTIP to re-nationalise NHS services that e.g. a US company was providing. I couldn’t quite work out how private companies can force a government to open up a market or extend private involvement in a partly-privatised market.

    Also, some commentators have said that the Scottish NHS would be immune from TTIP as it is totally public whereas the English NHS could be opened up more because it is partly private now. Again, I couldn’t work out why. I could do more research but if anyone can help, it would be appreciated.

    By the way, 38 degrees are running a co-ordinated campaign against TTIP. I’ll ask my questions to them too.

  7. derek cameron says:

    Upholding English honour

    TTIP can only be be kept out of Scottish Health Service by a yes vote. A no vote will leave snhs effectively a regional entity within UK and open season for TTIP investors throughout UK will result.

    1. OK thanks Derek. I hope there is a Yes for lots of reasons. On TTIP, I am trying to work out how it will force open the NHS market – north or south of the border. If the UK or Scottish Govts choose to open up the NHS more to private competition, then I can see how it would be hard to reverse it. But to the extent that govt does not open it up, I don’t understand how the private sector can force it. I am sure TTIP is bad news for many reasons, it’s just that I want to understand how.

  8. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    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.

  9. Carl says:

    And here is Alex Salmond addressing the Brookings Institution in Washington DC in April 2013 on the topic of TTIP: “Despite all of the current difficulties in the eurozone, we saw a reminder of that just two months ago — with the announcement of the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the USA.

    “Estimates show that once this is established, the European economy will get a stimulus of half a per cent of its GDP. For Scotland, given that the USA is our largest individual trading partner outside the UK — our trade with the EU as a bloc is greater — the agreement will be especially good news.”

    Amazing.

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