Protesters believe trade agreement threatens future of NHS
Hundreds of NHS supporters have staged a protest at the Scottish Parliament over the UK government’s refusal to use its veto to protect the NHS from a global trade agreement.
There are fears the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) could affect health services in the UK, opening them up to privatisation from foreign firms.
Many believe the legislation will mean American health care firms will be able to buy aspects of the NHS - creating privatisation by the back door.
As part of the protest, which was organised by campaign group The People’s NHS, hundreds of households in Edinburgh also took a collective stand against what they call a potential “irreversible sell-off” by displaying ‘protect our NHS’ signs.
And around 300 houses in streets across Corstorphine, Ratho and Ratho Station displayed estate agency style signs outside their homes calling for Cameron to “stop the sale of the NHS.”
Lord Livingston must take this message to David Cameron
Lord Livingston, the UK’s trade minister, will give evidence to the European & External Relations Committee on TTIP today and protestors are calling on the minister to support The People’s NHS campaign to exclude the NHS from TTIP.
Linda Clarke, Peoples’ NHS activist and a former NHS worker said: “Scotland is sending a strong message to David Cameron - use your veto and protect our NHS. We represent millions of Scots who believe it’s simply wrong for the NHS to be part of a US trade deal.
“Hundreds of households are delivering a clear message by displaying "protect our NHS" signs in Edinburgh.
“Lord Livingston understands how deeply we value and care for our NHS. Lord Livingston must take this message to David Cameron: use your veto to protect our NHS.
"The people of Scotland will accept nothing less.”
Over 100 MSPs have already pledged their support while a pledge to protect the NHS is circulating in Holyrood.
What is the transatlantic trade and investment partnership?
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and US.
As a bi-lateral trade agreement, TTIP is about reducing the regulatory barriersto trade for big business, things like food safety law, environmentallegislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individualnations.
John Hilary,executivedirector of War on Want, called it “an assault on European and USsocieties by transnational corporations.”
Since before TTIP negotiations began last February, the process has been criticised for being secretive and undemocratic.
Public services, especially the NHS, are in the firing line.
One of the main aims of TTIP is to open up Europe’s public health, education and water services to US companies.
This could essentially mean the privatisation of the NHS.
The European Commission has claimed that public services will be kept out of TTIP.
However, UK trade minister Lord Livingston has admitted that talks about the NHS are still on the table.