I've recently received a number of form-letters from people concerned about the implications on the NHS of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), I thought it important to address those concerns.
Firstly let me make it clear that the TTIP does not require us, the USA or any other country to open up their national health systems to private providers. These accusations of privatisation are unfounded scaremongering.
I will support the TTIP because this free trade deal will lower trade barriers, boost growth and create more jobs, as well as helping to lower prices. I have always believed that we cannot have fair trade without free trade and I will, therefore, always support the reduction of trade barriers where possible. Making sure Britain continues to be an open, trading economy is part of our plan to build a healthier, more balanced economy, so we can secure a better future for Britain.
With specific regard to the NHS, the EU, negotiators on both sides, and the government have made it clear that the TTIP will not affect how public services are funded. Ignacio Garcia-Bercero, (the EU Chief Negotiator) has stated in a letter to John Healey MP (the Labour Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on TTIP) that "there is no reason to fear either for the NHS as it stands today, or for changes to the NHS in future, as a result of TTIP" (European Commission letter, 8 July 2014).
Decisions about NHS care will remain in the hands of local doctors, who will continue to act in the best interests of patients. The NHS is something to be valued and protected – and decisions about the commissioning of NHS care will not be affected.
The agreement will help patients get the most effective new treatments. We want patients to be able to benefit from the very latest diagnostic devices and drugs. The US is a world leader in medical technologies and this agreement will help patients get access to those treatments on the NHS faster.
This agreement is not new and the UK has over 90 similar agreements in place. The rules on investment protection and Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will preserve the right of the government to regulate in the public interest.