British health service NHS 'up for sale to U.S.' says former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Britain's Conservative lawmakers have defended a vote to reject legal protections for the National Health Service (NHS) in post-Brexit trade deals with the U.S. and other countries, saying that it is already a"top priority".The British House of Lords added an amendment to the government's new Trade Bill - which will enable the U.K. to make new international trade agreements after leaving the
EU- that sought to legally protect the NHS from being used in future negotiations.The clause banned any agreement that"undermines or restricts" the U.K.'s ability to provide"a comprehensive publicly funded health service free at the point of delivery" and restricted"the sale of patient data" and the government's ability to control drug prices. The amendment was supported by opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Labour Party, but rejected by Conservative MPs by 357 votes to 266.
When he went up against Prime Ministerduring the 2019 U.K. election, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed the NHS would be"up for sale" under the Conservatives in order to secure a trade deal with the U.S. He claims toNewsweekthat the result of the vote on the Trade Bill amendment has shown that the Conservatives have"betrayed" the NHS and broken any promise it would be protected. headtopics.com
"During the General Election, Tory MPs denied our claims that the NHS would be up for sale in trade deals, but that is exactly what is happening now," Corbyn says."We must continue to campaign against NHS privatization and for better funding."
Conservative Trade Minister Greg Hands argued the government is"wholly committed to ensuring that the NHS remains universal and free at the point of service" and called the allegation that the NHS could be"sold off" to foreign companies"offensive and absurd".
He said:"Our position could not be clearer: the NHS, the services it provides and the price it pays for medicines will remain off the table when we are negotiating free trade agreements. These are not just words. I am pleased to confirm that none of the agreements we have signed with 63 partner countries has threatened the delivery of a free and universal NHS. Not a single one of those agreements has affected our ability to protect the health service."
NHS emergency doctor Robert Hirst says that despite what Hands says, he fears the health service is at risk from"forces which prioritize profit over our health" so some deal could be done with the trade negotiations."Last year the government stated the NHS would not be on the table," Hirst says."At that point, one in eight NHS beds was already being provided by a private American company. In Greater Manchester, it was one in four NHS beds. In a post-Brexit economy, our NHS is more vulnerable than ever." headtopics.com
Oppositions politicians have accused the government of putting the NHS at risk by including it in trade negotiations Read more: Newsweek »
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