The People’s NHS campaign is calling on David Cameron to exempt the NHS from a trade deal between the EU and US, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and to commit to vetoing the deal if the exemption is not granted.
Without an exemption for the NHS, I am concerned that the TTIP could open the door to increased privatisation of health services. Such an approach would erode the founding principles that make the NHS special – that it is universally available, free at the point of delivery and based on clinical need, not the ability to pay.
Additional concerns surround the inclusion in the TTIP of the so called Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism. This process would allow companies to sue foreign governments where public policy impacts on business. This would seriously undermine the ability of democratically elected governments to make decisions solely in the best interest of citizens.
In recent months we have heard different explanations for the status of the NHS in negotiations around the TTIP. There is so much confusion and I agree with the People’s NHS that we need a clear statement from the UK Government that our health services are off limits.