EU/US Trade and Investment treaty needs to be got rid of altogether – NHS exemption isn’t possible

Christine Hyde, a member of Dewsbury Keep Our NHS Public, has created a petition calling on David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt to “Keep NHS Health Service Provision Fully Exempt from the EU/US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, currently under negotiation.”

If TTIP goes ahead, it will give powers to multinational corporations to demand access to ALL public service contracts, as of right, and will extend their powers to sue governments if they don’t get what they want.

However, since creating the petition, Christine has found that the available exemption under the trade rules that govern the TTIP does not cover the NHS.

Christine found out about this when the British Medical Journal published an article (BMJ 2014;348:g2876) about her petition. In the article, Dr Lucy Reynolds, a research fellow in the Faculty of Public Health and Policy of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who warned against the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, said that she too was strongly opposed to the TTIP treaty, but was disappointed by what she called the “misleading” wording of this petition.

Lucy Reynolds said,

“The available exemption covers only public services that are 100% public with no private sector involvement at all.”

Since the NHS is already part-privatised, it is not exempt from competition law, which is what TTIP is all about.

As a result, Lucy Reynolds said,

“There are two strategies on TTIP: get rid of it altogether, which is what we should be asking for, as it is entirely against the public interest, or attempt to qualify for an exemption, which would be available for the wholly public sector NHS, which no longer exists in this country.”

Christine Hyde said,

“I am not a lawyer. It is therefore not surprising that I was unaware that to exempt the NHS from TTIP would be impossible.  All reassurances that the NHS is in safe hands, have now been blown out of the water. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 has been shown to be the wrecking tool that it is. The TTIP needs to be got rid of altogether.”

The BMJ article also includes a comment from a spokeswoman for the Department of Health for England, who said,

“The TTIP negotiations have the potential to benefit patients through promoting collaboration across the pharmaceutical and life science sectors.”

TTIP – helping Big Pharma’s drive to integrate health and social care in a “third place”

Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield’s Right Care Right Time Right Place proposals – and a slew of other similar NHS reconfigurations across the country – are driven by Big Pharma’s urgent wish to develop a new business model, since patents on many of its most profitable drugs are due to expire soon.

This drive is backed up by the UK government’s new Office of Life Sciences, which is led by a director from the global accountancy and management consultancy company, Deloitte.

Together with global management consultancy companies like Ernst and Young and PA Consulting, Big Pharma is driving a global transformation of health and social care that aims to replace costly hospital care with cheaper healthcare in a “third place”.

This “third place” is neither the hospital nor the GP practice, but wherever the so-called “superconsumer” patient happens to be.

Big Pharma is looking to the aging Baby Boom “me generation”, which came of age along with the new post-war consumer society, to be the early adopters of this model.

This “third place” model of healthcare maps directly onto Calderdale and Huddersfield’s Right Care Right Place Right Time proposals.

At the same time, Big Pharma is a major cause of the healthcare costs inflation that Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust give as a reason for the cost-cutting RCRPRT proposals.

So here we have it. TTIP (and the Right Care Right Time Right Place reconfiguration and its variants throughout England) are to open the door to American Big Pharma and life sciences companies that will truffle hunt our NHS and gobble up its riches, which rightfully belong to us, the people who own it and whose parents and grandparents fought to create it.

There is more information from Lucy Reynolds about TTIP and the NHS here, making the case that all three main political parties know full well that no TTIP exemption is possible for the NHS, since it has already been committed to privatisation:

“All three main UK political parties are signed up to this agenda, though none are honest about that, except privately with the commercial interests that sponsored them to make these changes.”

Despite this, anti-TTIP campaigner Linda Kaucher is still calling for the public to pressurise the Labour Party to call for an NHS exemption from TTIP, as reported by Calderdale 38 Degrees NHS Chair Ken Cheslett.

Ken attended a presentation on TTIP by Linda Kaucher in York on 1st May, and reported,

“Linda Kaucher advised as to why we should be concerned about this agreement and why we should do all in our power to reject it, with suggestions on action that we (the public) might take.

She said that harmonising the NHS with US corporate interests has already happened through the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and that if TTIP goes through it will be impossible to reverse this legislation.

Her suggested actions included pressurising the Labour Party to call for the exemption of the NHS from TTIP. She said that Andy Burnham appeared to be onside, but we are hearing nothing from the leadership.”

However, if Lucy Reynolds is right, Andy Burnham’s call to designate healthcare as exempt from competition law looks like barking up the wrong tree.

Other suggestions from Linda Kaucher are:

  • Write to the head of BBC about the need to report on TTIP
  • Open this EU TTIP Consultation link and in answer to Question 13 say “we don’t want ISDS (Investor- State Dispute Settlements)”:

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