Herald Scotland | 22 June 2015
Cut NHS from trade deal say doctors
Doctors have voted overwhelmingly to urge the Government to remove health and social care services from a controversial trade agreement between the EU and US
"If there is anything resembling an NHS by the time this treaty is negotiated it won’t survive," one GP warned.
The debate took place on the first day of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) annual representative meeting in Liverpool, where doctors argued that the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was designed to meet the interest of private corporations and will open up the health service to privatisation by US firms.
Dr Gregor Venters, a GP from Edinburgh, said: "TTIP seems set up to help big business.
"Private corporations could use the process to bully governments into dropping legislation to improve food standards, for example.
"It will have a deleterious effect on public health and make privatisation of the NHS not only possible but probable. The least we can expect is the exclusion of health and social care and public health policy from the process."
Dr Henry McKee, a GP from Belfast, was introduced to delegates as being against the motion - but told them it was because "it doesn’t go far enough".
"Freedom of information requests of other countries which have entered into such agreements show exactly how damaging this treaty will be to both the social fabric and the health economy of this country," he said.
"If there is anything resembling an NHS by the time this treaty is negotiated it won’t survive this treaty.
"The correct motion is to kill this treaty dead, not to tolerate it sneaking in and mugging us."
All but one delegate voted in favour of urging the Government to remove health and social care services and public health legislation from the TTIP negotiations.
Prime Minister David Cameron has previously said there is "no way" the agreement would have any impact on the NHS.
Meanwhile, doctors have called for the Government to provide better support for war veterans amid a "fundamental misunderstanding" that their care is the responsibility of charities.
Dr David Pring said reserves, including doctors and nurses, were particularly in need and veterans’ care should be parliamentary-funded and resourced.
Paying tribute to soldiers who died in the Afghanistan conflict, he said: "Many that returned suffered multiple injuries, amputations, and major long-lasting physical trauma, and many suffered wounds that are not visible, but caused them and their families considerable grief with mental illness and post-traumatic stress."
He told delegates that reserves were more likely to feel that people at home would not understand what they had been through, received less support from the military, and had greater difficulty in adjusting to civilian life.