News | Published November 10 2019

SNP promise to protect NHS from privatisation in its election manifesto

The SNP’s election manifesto will include a pledge to introduce legislation protecting the NHS from privatisation and excluding it from any future trade deals.

The so-called ‘NHS Protection Bill’ will “explicitly prevent” any future government from putting the NHS on the table in any trade arrangements, as well as granting a veto to the devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by requiring their “explicit approval” if it passes. This would avoid any “negative impact” on the NHS in the devolved nations, or consumers being hit by rising medicine prices there.

Party leader and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the NHS should not be for sale “at any price”, calling on other opposition parties to back the bill to “stop the Tories trading our NHS for trade deals with Donald Trump”, with incumbent prime minister Boris Johnson known to favour a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.

She said: "the NHS in Scotland is run in Scotland, for Scotland and under the SNP it will always be in public hands. Our NHS is not for sale at any price.”

"While the Scottish Parliament has control of health policy, we cannot currently stop Westminster signing away that protection in a trade deal or entering agreements that dramatically push up drug prices or risk our public services, including the NHS.”

Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has also claimed that trade deal between a Tory government and the US after Brexit could hike up medicine prices to the point where it costs the NHS £500 million per week, with US trade negotiators wanting American pharmaceutical products to have "full market access".

The UK government, including health secretary Matt Hancock and international trade secretary Liz Truss, has repeatedly insisted that the NHS is “not for sale” and “off the table” in any trade talks.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has also promised to implement the "biggest programme of NHS investment in a generation" ahead of the Conservatives’ election campaign.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
November 10 2019

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