TTIP and NHS March 2015 Update

Thank you to all those who have contacted me again in regards to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the National Health Service, and the NHS funding in general. Please find the below update on the current situation. I would like to assure you that the Government is committed to an NHS that is always there for everyone who needs it, funded from general taxation and free at the point of use. TTIP could not change this.

I am totally reliant on the NHS, as neither I nor my family have private health insurance. My children were born on the NHS. My family has been through the normal issues of health, from cancer to minor ops, treated by the NHS. In addition my father and brother have given their careers to the NHS, one as a GP and one as a hospital doctor.

The NHS matters to me, and has been a big part of my life. So why should I want to put it at risk? Everyone knows of David Cameron’s experience of the NHS in circumstances none of us would wish to share. Why would he wish to put the NHS at risk?

TTIP

The major presumption of the criticisms placed upon TTIP is that the NHS is threatened through Government policy, and through TTIP. Again, I disagree.

It will continue to be for EU member states to make decisions about whether and to what extent they involve the private sector in the provision of public services. The Commission's chief negotiator on TTIP has confirmed in writing that EU countries will be free to decide how they run their public health systems. This letter is published on the Commission's website, and you can find it at: http://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/press/frontpage/2014/14_72_en

I have been reassured by colleagues in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills that TTIP will not prevent the Government from taking regulatory action to protect the public or the environment, nor will they force the Government to change laws, open markets or private public services.

I do not agree that TTIP has any serious relevance or implications above and beyond the guidelines and considerations which the NHS already has to apply.

I believe this partnership is a once in a generation opportunity. It would be the largest bilateral trade agreement in the world and would bring significant economic benefits in terms of jobs and growth, with the potential to deliver £10 billion to the UK economy each year.

Privatisation

My experience, over thirty years in public life, is that each government has sought to deliver the best it can with the NHS. It remains by all accounts one of the best health systems in the world, with some unique features every public representative wishes to preserve.

The very small element of private sector involvement in the NHS will continue under any future Government. The Labour Government 1997-2010 encouraged this- and there is no evidence it would not do so again. The NHS has always involved a mixture- I will continue to support the best health care being provided for constituents, whoever provides it.

Economy and the NHS

The greatest danger of ‘cuts’ to the NHS would lie with a return of those who nearly bankrupted the country in 2010. Only a strong economy can provide for the increasing health care needs of the country. I will support the policies most likely to result in economic growth, jobs and opportunities, as well as the money needed for the NHS.

This investment has currently paid for record numbers of clinical staff to deliver better care – over 23,000 more professionally qualified clinical staff since May 2010, including:

-      9,580 extra doctors

-      8,476 more hospital nurses

-      2,231 more midwives

-      3,147 more health visitors.