BMA demands Brexit guarantees as Labour dossier shows 'NHS up for sale'

BMA leaders have called for 'cast-iron guarantees' that the NHS will be protected in any post-Brexit trade deal, after the Labour party revealed details of US-UK trade talks that it says put 'the NHS on the table'.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said unredacted documents obtained by the party on trade talks between the UK and US proved 'that under Boris Johnson the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale'.

Official notes on meetings held by the UK-US trade and investment working group over the past two years show that US negotiators have 'pushed hard' for longer patents for US drug companies, Labour said. The party warned that longer patents would drive up the price paid by the NHS for vital drugs.

Labour highlighted a line in the documents stating that the US starting point in trade talks was that 'total market access' should be the 'baseline assumption of the trade negotiations'.

NHS survival

Mr Corbyn said that 'on behalf of the Conservative government, officials reassured their counterparts that "the US should expect the UK to be a liberalising influence" and that together they could "fly the good flag for services liberalisation".'

The Labour leader added: 'That’s a green light for breaking open Britain’s public services so corporations can profit. This election is now a fight for the survival of our NHS as a public service free for all at the point of need.

'So for the want of any doubt, let me give this reassurance: Labour will never ever treat our NHS as a bargaining chip in trade talks with anybody. We will never let Donald Trump get his hands on our NHS. Because our NHS is not for sale.'

Prime minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter that the 'NHS will not be on the table for any trade negotiations' - and said the Conservatives were 'protecting and strengthening our NHS with more investment and an Australian points-based immigration system'.

Post-Brexit trade deal

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'The implication that the NHS could be included in a post-Brexit trade deal with the US is alarming and must not become a reality.

'Despite previous assurances from Mr Johnson, following the release of these documents we now need cast-iron guarantees from all parties that the health service will form no part of negotiations around future trade deals, and that the health of the British public will not be put at risk by commercial motives or lower standards.

'We must ensure that no matter what government is in charge, patients’ access to essential and lifechanging medicine cannot be put at risk.

'One of the vital lessons to come out of the election is the importance and value people living here place on the NHS as a public service.

'Trading our nation’s health for profit would be the beginning of the end – our health service must be completely excluded from any future trade agreement.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in


Just published

Clinical trials: Microscope in a lab

GPs could be incentivised to recruit patients onto commercial clinical trials

GPs could be offered incentives to recruit patients onto commercial clinical trials...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: How many GPs do we need for safe general practice, pay restoration, the state of premises

Talking General Practice looks at safe working limits and the number of GPs we need...

Stethoscope and a computer

EMIS to keep panic button after outcry from GPs

EMIS, one of the main GP IT system providers, has backtracked on plans to phase out...

Health minister Lord Markham

Health minister Lord Markham: How we will support GPs to offer patients greater choice

Health minister Lord Markham explains what the government's plans for using the NHS...

Patient receives the flu vaccine

Flu vaccination campaign to return to pre-pandemic cohorts this year

This year's flu vaccination campaign is set to be reduced after it was expanded during...

Plant-based diet

Vegan and vegetarian diets can play key role in reducing cardiovascular risk, study finds

Plant-based diets can play a significant role in lowering the risk of stroke and...