LETTER: Would the NHS be safe after an EU exit?
I would like to correct what David Hill's letter claims about the effect of the proposed Trans Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) on our NHS (DT, May 19 - click here to read).
First, he speculates that if the NHS is left to TTIP ‘the NHS would in all probabilities eventually be privatised’.
From the beginning, the NHS has been a mixture of public funding and private provision, with general practitioners and hospital consultants being perhaps the best known of the latter.
Under Labour, coalition and Conservative governments, other elements of the NHS — from IT to ambulance services — have been put out to private tender, for better or for worse. This has been nothing to do with the EU or TTIP.
Secondly, the EU Commission that is negotiating TTIP has excluded health services that ‘receive public funding or state support in any form’ from any deal.
It is better for the UK to remain in the EU and make sure that this promise is kept in any agreement. Any TTIP treaty would anyhow have to be accepted by EU ministers – including the UK’s minister if we were still members – and the EU Parliament which has a strong UK membership. The UK outside the EU would have no say in an agreement, the substance of which we may anyhow have to abide by.
Finally, if there was a vote to leave the EU, it is more likely that the only way that the UK could get a quick trade deal with the US — and not go to the back of the queue — would be by accepting greater health service privatisation, as many US firms want. I would not put my money on post-Brexit prime minister Boris Johnson being the great protector of a publicly-funded health service.
Dr Clive Archer
Retired professor of international relations, Brampton