A nurse destroys the Tories’ claim that ‘the NHS is not for sale’ on Question Time

A nurse speaking on BBC Question Time
Tracy Keeling

On 27 November, Jeremy Corbyn released over 400 pages of previously secret documents detailing talks between US and UK officials in relation to a post-Brexit trade. The Labour leader said they were evidence that “the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale” in the trade deal with Donald Trump. Boris Johnson instantly cried foul, saying “the NHS is not on the table in any way”.

Thanks to a nurse on BBC Question Time, however, the current PM’s denial has been left in tatters.

We have evidence

The nurse, who’s worked in the NHS for 20 years, said:

I think it’s difficult because we have lots of evidence that Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are not to be trusted.

Indeed, both leaders’ political careers have been marked by lies. In fact, Johnson even faced accusations of lying about lying on 29 November, after he told ITV that he has never “tried to deceive” the public. Meanwhile, another Question Time audience member called out the Conservative Party for lying in its manifesto about its ‘50,000 more nurses‘ pledge. The audience member said even his 8-year-old child could see through the Tories’ dodgy maths:

Trust in these politicians is a vital issue in any US/UK trade deal. Firstly, because the talks are secret. The UK government’s own heavily redacted documents, obtained by campaigners prior to Corbyn’s revelations, show what a closely guarded secret the deal is. So having politicians you can trust not to quietly open up the NHS to US big pharma and private healthcare providers is critical.

Furthermore, as Corbyn pointed out:

these documents make clear… everything is included unless something is specifically excluded.

This means that the US wants “total market access” in the deal – meaning access to everything – and unless something is explicitly off the table, known as “negative listing”, it’s on the table. The documents do not show that the NHS is off the table, so, by default, it’s currently on the table.

Furthermore, Johnson and all other Conservative MPs voted on 23 October to ensure the NHS was on the table in any future trade deal, after Labour put forward a motion to protect it from such deals.

So can we trust Johnson to protect our NHS from US capture? The evidence firmly says no.

We have experience

The nurse went on to say:

[What] has been happening for several years, probably longer, is that there’s a large sum of the NHS budget already being spent and handed over to private companies in exchange for services to the NHS

This too is critical. The Conservative government introduced legislation in 2012 that has allowed private companies to scoop up the most profitable parts of our health system. As Corbyn pointed out in May 2018, the British public paid private companies, via taxes, £9bn for running their NHS services at that point – a 100% increase on 2010 when the Conservatives came to power.

Why then would anyone believe that the Tories are now ideologically opposed to allowing more private companies, from the US via the trade deal, to run NHS services?

Turnkey privatisation

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have starved the NHS of adequate funds, forcing numerous trusts into financial trouble. Conveniently for private providers, this makes the NHS unable to stump up competitive bids on service contracts. So more and more private providers run more and more of our health service. Ultimately, private providers could end up running the vast majority of our services. Such a situation allows for ‘turnkey privatisation’, whereby everything’s in place for a government to announce we’re moving to a private insurance system for healthcare. Because private companies are already well placed to provide it.

In short, the nurse on Question Time nailed why Johnson’s protestations are not enough to prove the NHS is safe in his hands. In fact, she left his claim in tatters.

Featured image via BBC

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  • Show Comments
    1. I suspect the Tory plan has always been to starve the NHS of funds until it’s given its last rites, then pour money into it in the days before it’s sold because the vultures who are after it want meat on the bones, not a skeleton. If the Tories steal the election or enough Brexiteers in the north are sore enough to avoid voting which lets the Tories back in, then I’m sure billions will find its way into the NHS just before its collapse–money intended to work its through to the vultures, not the patients.

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