LABOUR and British human rights groups condemned the reports that Tory MP Theresa May will use NHS contracts as a potential sweetener during her talks with new US President Donald Trump.
One of Mr Trump’s first actions as president was to effectively scrap the so-called Obamacare legislation, loathed by Republicans, which expanded private health insurance by several million people.
Mr Trump, who has long had links with and been an enthusiastic supporter of giant drugs firms is believed not only to be keen to row back on the meagre reforms Obamacare provided but make inroads into foreign services such as the NHS.
And before the PM’s meeting with the president last night, grave concerns were expressed that the NHS, the jewel in the crown of the British welfare state, could end up as a bargaining chip in the upcoming trade negotations.
Anti-poverty charity War on Want’s senior trade campaigner Mark Dearn said while the news was not surprising it would have a devastating impact on an already terminally ailing service: “It would be no surprise at all if Theresa May offered up the NHS in a new trade deal with the US when you consider that our government has already done exactly the same in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP),” he said.
Mr Dearn warned that, in conjunction with TTIP’s corporate courts, “a future attempt to renationalise any or all of the NHS would see US health companies suing the UK for lost profits resulting from their lost ‘market access.’
“If this government really intends a break with the European Commission’s secretly negotiated trade deals, it must start by showing Parliament and the people exactly what it intends to sacrifice in order to seal a deal with Donald Trump.”
Meanwhile new figures published yesterday gave a stark reality check into the state of the NHS.
Government statistics show that in total there were 4,093 cancelled urgent operations in 2016, up from 3,779 in 2015 and 3216 in 2014. Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Theresa May’s NHS crisis continues, and the problems are worse and more widespread than in previous years. By under funding and overstretching the NHS, the Tories have pushed health services to the brink.”