Friday, April 08, 2016

The EU and the NHS continued ...

There are quite a few issues in relation to the EU debate where each side has a case, but there are other issues where one side is right and the other is wrong.

No apology for coming back the issue of the EU and the NHS yet again as the debate rumbles on.

As I argued in my previous post on this subject, I believe that there are people on both the "leave" and "remain" side who have overstated their arguments about the NHS, particularly some of the scarier things said on both sides, but there is one aspect in particular of the debate about the impact of the EU on the National Health Service where one side have their facts completely right and the other does not.

That is the impact of TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

I do not believe that TTIP was ever likely to force the wholesale privatisation of the NHS, as opposed to affecting health procurement and the 6% or so of the NHS which has already been outsourced.

Nevertheless, it is true that there were originally aspects of the proposed deal which caused concern to some healthcare professionals. These concerns were raised both in the House of Commons - see the Hansard website here - and with MEPs, and passed to the EU negotiators. They have been taken on board.

EU negotiators have responded by publishing much of their negotiating position for TTIP, including the fact that guarantees must be included to protect public services. That in turn includes requirements which would clearly protect health services from being forcibly privatised as a result of the trade deal. You can read about those guarantees on the EU website at

Most of the healthcare professionals who previously had concerns about TTIP now accept that those concerns have been dealt with.

I was disappointed to see Dr David Owen, who really should have known better, jumping on the anti-TTIP bandwagon and repeating concerns which have now been resolved.

The very union whose legal advice David Owen quoted has accepted this and is now campaigning for Remain.

This is what 200 health professions had to say on the subject in The Times this week:

and what "Healthier IN" had to say in response to Lord Owen.

There are genuine reasons to consider voting "Leave" but a threat to the NHS from either the EU or TTIP is not one of them.


Jim said...

The saying in British politics is "we don't do God", Really meaning the UK tend to keep religion out of politics, unless of course its a debate about religion in general (for example, we dont have enough Muslim MP's, that type of thing).

So instead the NHS has some how taken the role of God. Its always on the side of both sides, and both sides are always trying their best to "please it" or improve it.

Its taking that same role in the EU referendum debate, if you vote to Remain / Leave you will harm the NHS, If you vote to Leave / Remain you will harm it.

Lets just take some examples of the leave campaign - They describe the NHS as a “60-year mistake” (Vote Leave’s Dan Hannan), say there’s “plenty of room for cuts” (Nigel Farage), and think people should have to pay for services so they “value them more” (Boris Johnson)

Vote Leave and we’ll save so much money that we can build a brand new hospital every week. Of course where we save it from - I for one don't know, Sure we maybe wont have to pay into the CAP, but anything we do save would have to be used by our own government to keep the UK farming. Savings from foreign aid, which wont happen, but if they did would increase the Push factors for people from devoloping countries, though even so its already been spent 8 times over by the Main leave campaigns.

That is genuinely some peoples thought process, when speaking about anything economy related then do so in terms of Hospitals and Nurses, and every one will love it. Then it no longer matters if the case for it is so flimsy, as no one will look.

I am not saying any improvements to the NHS are a bad thing, I am simply pointing out that some treat the NHS as a religion. I often wonder, with all these fully staffed new hospitals going up each and every week, in 150 years will everyone have one each?

Chris Whiteside said...

Very good point, JIm