MPs have a “moral duty” to protect the NHS from being negotiated in trade deals, campaigners have said as a vote on protecting the health service enters the House of Commons for a second time.
Anti-privatisation campaigners claim that failing to protect the NHS from trade deals would open it up to being charged more for drugs, enshrine the rights of American healthcare companies to access it, and “lock in” privatisation that could prove difficult for future governments to reverse.
The plea comes as MPs are asked to reconsider amendments to the trade bill prohibiting the NHS for being discussed in trade negotiations – an amendment a majority rejected in July 2020 but backed by the House of Lords in December.
Speaking on the forthcoming debate in parliament, We Own It campaigner Johnbosco Nwogbo said MPs had a “moral duty” to vote for the amendments.
He said: “This year, we’ve relied on our precious NHS more than ever before. It’s saved thousands of lives and it’s helped us fight back against this terrible pandemic. We’ve seen just how important it is, and why we can never let it be dismantled.
“That’s why it’s so shocking that the Trade Bill contains no protections for our NHS. The public won’t stand by and allow our precious health service to be handed up on a silver platter.
“We won’t let trade deals be signed where the rights of multinational corporations are put before the rights of patients. And we won’t let our NHS be carved up and sold off piece by piece.
“So with the debt we all owe to our NHS, MPs have a moral duty to amend the Trade Bill to protect it. Refusing to do so would be a betrayal of all our wonderful NHS staff and a betrayal of our country.”
The calls come as a new poll has found that three-quarters of Britons are worried about the impact a trade deal with the USA could have on the price the NHS pays for drugs.
The poll, conducted by Survation, and commissioned by We Own It found that 77% of the public were worried that a trade deal with the USA would increase the price the NHS pays for drugs, compared to just 18% who say they are not worried.
These concerns are being voiced by campaigners who have been putting pressure on MPs and the government to back amendments to the Trade Bill that seek to protect the NHS.
Dozens of people have shared videos on social media asking Boris Johnson to instruct his MPs to vote for the amendments. Meanwhile, over 11,000 people have written to their MP asking for them to amend the Trade Bill.