Local Residents Call on Prime Minister to Exempt NHS from Trade Deal

Proposals which could allow American healthcare companies bid for contracts to run NHS services at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) and Fleetwood Hospital have been given the thumbs-down by local residents.

Nearly three quarters of people surveyed in the Lancaster and Fleetwood parliamentary constituency said the NHS should be excluded from a new EU-US trade agreement.

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) aims to make trade between Europe and the United States easier.

But if the NHS is included as part of the deal, private healthcare companies in the US would be guaranteed the right to bid to run NHS services.  If a future UK government tried to stop the practice, US healthcare firms could then take legal action due to the lost business opportunities.

The polling company Survation asked people in Lancaster and Fleetwood for their views during a telephone survey.

More than 71 per cent of people surveyed said Prime Minister David Cameron should exclude the NHS from TTIP, while little more than 7 per cent supported its inclusion.  Just over 21 per cent of people said they weren’t sure.

Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, who has been campaigning with Keep Our NHS Public against the privatisation of pharmacy services at the RLI, said: “People in Lancaster and Fleetwood are sending a clear message to David Cameron that he should put the safety of local patients ahead of fat profits for trans-Atlantic multinationals.

“The Tory-led Coalition’s Health and Social Care Act is already putting our precious NHS at risk by allowing private companies to compete for contracts.

“Including the NHS in TTIP could make this situation even worse.  Imagine a company boss in California or a manager in Massachusetts being accountable for local health services here in Lancaster and Fleetwood.

“The Prime Minister needs to make a clear commitment to excluding the NHS from this deal and re-think his Government’s damaging health reforms.”

The telephone survey involved 202 people chosen at random.

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