The NHS is still at risk: Email your MP!

3 March 2020 — Global Justice Now

Yesterday the government published its objectives for a trade deal with the US. As usual, the document makes a very general claim that the NHS and drug pricing will not be on the table in a trade deal with Donald Trump. But in fact, we know from last year’s leaks that the NHS and drug pricing have already been discussed in preliminary talks, and this document fails to rule out the major threats.

How can the government be saying one thing and doing another? Because they’re hiding behind the idea that the NHS would be directly ‘sold off’ in a trade deal. In fact, it’s the rules within a US-UK trade deal that threaten the NHS – as we have said from the beginning. These rules could mean that:

  • Existing and future levels of privatisation in the NHS will be locked in  
  • Our ability to regulate drug prices will not be fully protected 
  • The NHS will be paying high prices for longer because of extended monopoly protection on new drugs. 

None of these threats have been specifically ruled out by the government so far. So, we need your help to keep up the pressure, ask the awkward questions, and let the government know that we are serious about protecting the NHS. Can you write to your MP now and demand that they ask the government to make specific commitments that protect the NHS? 

While our parliament lacks effective powers over trade deals themselves, ministers have to answer questions that MPs ask on behalf of their constituents. We also need to raise awareness among MPs so they do not just accept government claims at face value and instead wake them up to the reality that our NHS is still under threat from a US trade deal. We need your help to keep asking questions to pin down what trade secretary Liz Truss is actually planning, and keep the pressure up.

We need to move beyond the rhetoric. And we need your help to do this. 

Can you email your MP to ask the Trade Secretary for detailed responses to these key threats?

Thanks to our campaign and our allies over the last few years, we have put the threats to the NHS from a trade deal with Trump at the top of the political agenda: 

  • In 2018, thousands of you responded to the government consultation on the US trade deal to expose the key threats of a toxic trade deal with Trump 
  • In 2019, we released redacted trade papers that we obtained through Freedom of Information requests to expose the secrecy behind trade talks. We also exposed how drug pricing was being discussed between the government and big pharma.  
  • In 2020, we continued our court case against the government to fight for more transparency in trade negotiations. We are currently waiting for the verdict.  

Keeping up the heat has forced the government into making bold statements about ‘protecting’ the NHS. These statements have only happened because of public pressure from people like us. But rhetoric is not enough and instead we need cast-iron guarantees. Ultimately though, the only guaranteed way to protect the NHS is to stop this trade deal.  

Stopping this trade deal would also mean protecting our food and farming standards, protecting our ability to tackle the climate emergency and rejecting the elite corporate courts system. On all these issues we want to mobilise public pressure, so the risks of a trade deal with Trump make it politically untenable.  

With speculation that a trade deal with the US could be concluded as early as this summer, we cannot ease up, we need to keep ramping up the pressure on the government and let them know that we will not accept their empty words. 

Thank you for your continued support.

Heidi Chow
Trade campaigner at Global Justice Now

PS: read more in our briefing US-UK trade deal – Threats to the NHS and drug pricing

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