UK NHS in Danger If US to Pursue Post-Brexit Trade Deals With Britain - Scholar

© AP Photo / Kirsty WigglesworthAmbulance in UK (File)
Ambulance in UK (File) - Sputnik International
US President Donald Trump appears to have performed an abrupt U-turn on his comments that the NHS would be “on the table” in post-Brexit trade talks. The US president sparked an almighty row when he said that the “NHS or anything else, a lot more than that” would be in the sights of US firms in any deal.

Sputnik has discussed the issue with Dr Tony O’Sullivan, Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public.

Sputnik: What do these comments signify and is Britain’s NHS under threat from the US?

Tony O’Sullivan: I don't believe his U-turn that he's now taking it off the table again. I think he has a very clear disregard for public services and you may remember in 2017 we organized a huge demonstration for the NHS.

He tried to make out of that was the public protest against the NHS.

An NHS sign is pictured at St Thomas' Hospital in front of the Big Ben clock face and the Elizabeth Tower on January 13, 2017 in London. - Sputnik International
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That he will he wants, he wanted to get into private services in the NHS as part of trade deals. This is a huge amount of distrust in anything that he says and he flips and flops and I think he actually believes his own lies some of the time.

But there's a consistent message coming from Donald Trump from Nigel Farage and from Liam Fox that they believe that commercializing the NHS is the next step.

So the NHS will be in significant danger if leaving Europe, Donald Trump then starts pushing for trade deals with the NHS services included.

Sputnik: The two words we keep hearing over and over again from Trump, whenever the conversation turns to the UK, is the apparent special relationship between the UK and the US. Focusing on these comments of Trump’s as well as similar statements from Woody Johnson, does this represent a non-existent relationship rather than an equal and ‘special relationship’ one?

Tony O’Sullivan: Well, I'm not the politician, I’m a campaigner for the effectiveness and the democratic nature of public services, and the NHS is a very special example of that. I'm worried that the special relationship that America is claiming for the UK will be one of exploitation.

There is significant American interests already circling around the NHS and that could go a lot further with the pressure of trade deals when Britain leaves the EU.

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I'm very worried about what the special relationship means for real people needing a very good health service and the unfairness and lack of democratic access to health care in America is a scar really on the face of American society? I don't want that in Britain.

Sputnik: In light of these comments, the British Medical Association has issued a statement urging all Conservative leadership hopefuls to exclude the NHS from any post-Brexit talks. So far Matt Hancock, Jeremy Hunt, and Dominic Raab have all supported the statement. What actions should be seeing from the government to ensure our NHS remains in the public hands, while simultaneously protecting it American and other private investors?

Tony O’Sullivan: When Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock say that the NHS is safe in their hands from privatization, they are flying in the face of their own decision making over the last several years.

Since the Conservatives legislation, the Health and Social Care Act came into force in 2013, clinical Services in the NHS have been almost compulsorily put out to competitive tender and certainly in the community health area, for example, mental health looking after disabled children, adults with disability; the majority of contracts are now going to the private sector.

So that's on their watch, they are denying that's privatization. One thing that the government must do and it's within a gift to do so is to declare that the NHS is a public service that is not of economic interest.

A protester holds a placard in support of the NHS in front of the Elizabeth Tower, also known as Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament during a march against private companies' involvement in the National Health Service (NHS) and social care services provision and against cuts to NHS funding in central London on March 4, 2017 - Sputnik International
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That's a technical phase, but it means taking the public service of the Health care out of the commercial sector. Even though in France and Germany social insurance is the model of paying for healthcare, France and Germany have declared that their health services not for competitive tendering and they will award contracts where they see it as in the interest of French healthcare or German healthcare.

It's this government that has declared that the NHS is of general economic purpose to be fought for over by private companies in competitive tendering. It's within this government's gift to say they will stop that and that's what I would want to hear a conservative candidate saying, although suspect that what we really need is a change of government.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Tony O’Sullivan and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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