Green Party opposes TTIP in the NHS for the common good

Green Party NI Leader Steven Agnew MLA said: “The Green Party in Northern Ireland is opposed to TTIP in its entirety and consequentially favours any provisions which weaken its impact on the various sectors of the economy.
“The introduction of TTIP will make privatisation of the NHS irreversible and that is something we fundamentally oppose. Though huge chunks of this trade deal are shrouded in secrecy, what we do know is that TTIP poses a very real threat to the quality of life of people in the UK. This deal, favoured by multinationals, threatens to slash regulations that protect our environment and health. But, most worryingly, it represents a serious threat to democracy in our country.

“TTIP would grant corporations the power to sue governments, lock-in the privatisation of public services including the NHS, and undo regulations that protect workers, the environment and food safety and standards. If agreed, TTIP will change the whole emphasis of NHS health care: the priority will become the rights of transnational organisations rather than the care of patients. TTIP will give transnationals the right to bid for government spending, including on health. It will put severe restrictions on the ability of the UK government to control costs (e.g. of medicines) and to regulate any transnational companies that provide health services.

“TTIP will not only affect the NHS but also our standards of health as it will give any US company operating in the UK health market the right to sue the government if it introduces new public health regulation, or health protection and health promotion policy measures that might affect these companies’ future investment or profit opportunities.

“So evidence for safer or more effective treatments, or advances in clinical knowledge, could not be put into practice (at least without the risk of being sued) if this affected the anticipated profits of existing providers. At the same time, harmonisation of health and safety regulations is likely to mean the downgrading of UK public health measures governing the use of food labelling, pesticides, chemicals, the presence of hormones in meat production and so on.

“The EU generally has higher standards of health and safety regulation than the US because of different methods of deciding safety standards: the EU uses the ‘precautionary principle’ (where tests must prove substances are not harmful) while the US approach is to assume that something is safe unless proved otherwise. ‘Harmonisation’ is likely to mean that the standards currently set by the EU will have to be lowered to those of the US.

“Free at the point of delivery high quality health care is a fundamental human right that should remain simple, effective and in the hands of the public and not the hands of private business firms who would inevitably prioritise profit over people. Health care via the NHS should be based on policies for the common good rather than breaking up the service into to commodified bits to be bought and operated by multinational corporations focused on the health of their profits rather than the health of the nation.”

26 February 2015

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