Pro-National Health Service (NHS) campaign groups have rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s assertion that Britain’s system of socialised medicine is protected from the “real and serious threat” of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The Assistant General Secretary of the the Unite trade union, Gail Cartmail, has claimed that the two hundred and forty eight pages of secret TTIP negotiation documents recently leaked by Greenpeace show the British government is not taking the necessary steps to protect the NHS from the deal the European Union (EU) is attempted to finalise with America.
Campaigners have repeatedly expressed concerns that the Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions in TTIP would end up with American healthcare firms being able to sue the British government for lost profits if the NHS is reorganised to remove private commercial interests, ultimately leading to its irreversible privatisation.
At Prime Minister’s Question Time this week, Mr. Cameron described that theory as “the reddest of red herrings”, explaining:
“There are plenty of reasons that people don’t want to see trade expanded, I think they should be honest about it and say they don’t like trade deals rather than using the red herring of the NHS to distract from a trade deal that could add tens of billions to our economy and generate jobs.”
Ms. Cartmail contradicts the Prime Minister’s claims, in light of both the Greenpeace leaks and legal advice. She told The Independent:
“It appears we are even being duped over protections for public services.
“We know that TTIP poses a real and serious threat to the NHS. The only way to neutralise that threat is for David Cameron to give a cast iron guarantee that he will exclude the NHS from the trade agreement.”
Such explicit reservations have been used for Austria, Germany, Greece and Italy, protecting their existing healthcare systems, but the British government believes the NHS is already sufficiently protected.
The anti-poverty charity, War on Want, has accused the Prime Minister of “playing the public for fools”. Mark Dearn, the charity’s Senior Campaigner with responsibility for trade, said:
“The only slippery fish here is the Prime Minister, whose rhetoric flies in the face of two sets of legal opinion stating the NHS is in danger. As well as this, the EU’s published TTIP offer clearly shows the NHS is up for grabs.”
As Breitbart London previously reported, the former Minister of State for Health and Foreign Secretary, David Owen, has already warned that TTIP exposes the NHS to a “myriad of dangers”.
As a former Europhile Lord Owen campaigned to remain in the European Economic Community, as the EU then was, in the 1975 referendum. He now appreciates that he was wrong then, saying:
“[Secretary of State for Health] Barbara Castle and I disagreed in 1975. I thought the common market would leave the NHS alone but she turned out to be more perceptive than me.”