Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Lagan Valley Green Party supports People’s NHS campaign

In recent years, our local hospital has faced many threats. Lagan Valley’s residents know only too well about the closures of our A&E – but not many will know about one of the biggest so far to our local hospital and indeed the entire health service. It is called the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” – or TTIP for short. It is basically a deal between the USA and EU that allows international corporations to act without hindrance. It is a free trade deal. Since 2012, the NHS has been effectively turned into a marketplace. Big corporations, under TTIP, could bid for all government spending, including for NHS services. TTIP would prioritize the rights of corporations over patient care standards and safety.

You may think that it is only right that the NHS gets a bit of a shake as its standards have slipped in recent years. That may be the case in some places, but TTIP would make this far less likely to happen. TTIP replaces care standards with profit margins. You may think privatization of the NHS is OK- as long as it Is closely regulated, but here is the catch – TTIP is all about de-regulation. We realize there are some people who think free trade is a good idea. The great thing about this campaign is that it is only asking the NHS to be exempt from TTIP, not scrap the whole thing.

This means everyone who values the NHS can sign it no matter what their economic views. The aim of all private industry is to make a profit above all else. This is simply too big a threat to everything we expect from the NHS – standards judged on outcome rather than only low cost, years of experience and above all, open to all regardless of ability to pay. TTIP would also let corporations sue the government if they aren’t getting their way, which would waste a lot more taxpayer’s money. Take the recent decision in China against pharmaceutical giant GSK as a warning of what can go wrong with private business and health.

That’s why we are happy to support the petition and call on David Cameron to use his veto in the EU to make sure we aren’t gambling with our NHS. There is already so much pressure on our health service for many reasons; let’s not deal it the fatal blow. We urge everyone to research the issue for themselves, and sign the petition at www.peoplesnhs.org. We also encourage our colleagues in all parties to get together on this one.

Picture: Lagan Valley Greens members signing the petition in Hillsborough.