People's NHS campaigners take to St Albans' streets for petition against TTIP
Campaigners have taken to the streets this week to garner signatures for a petition urging the government to 'save the NHS from American private health companies'.
NHS staff, members of the public and Green party members gathered outside the town hall on St Peter’s Street waving placards and chanting “NHS: Not for sale”, and encouraging passers-by to sign the petition - which has so far acquired 2,000 signatures.
The group say that the TTIP (transatlantic trade and investment partnership) negotiations - which are going on ‘behind closed doors’ and involve free-trade deals between the EU and the US - have the potential to see parts of the NHS sold off.
Jill Mills, a Green party member and campaigner, told the Herts Ad that the group was looking to make sure the NHS was exempt from the deals.
She said: “The TTIP agreement will determine whether goods can be taken out of private hands. It is supposed to harmonise the relationships on all trade items and for Americans, health is a trade item – in Britain, it isn’t.
“Private healthcare diverts tax-payers’ money into private hands. If you’re running a private business, you are aiming to make a profit.”
Jill said that although other publically-owned institutions - police, security, education - were at risk of being privatised, the NHS was at particular risk because it had “generated the largest interest among American healthcare providers”.
A leaflet handed out by the so-called ‘People’s NHS’ states: “Since 2011, billions of pounds has been handed to private companies to run our NHS - we think that’s wrong.
“But it’s about to get a whole lot worse. TTIP could make those NHS sell-offs irreversible. Under the agreement, our elected government would not be able to bring NHS services back into public ownership. Otherwise they would get sued by American multinationals.”
For more information about the People’s NHS campaign, visit peoplesnhs.org/east