Under a potential trade deal with the US, NHS patient information would be taken by US technology companies to develop medical treatments that would then be sold back to the NHS. This exploitation of NHS patient information is one of the possible outcomes of a Conservative-led post-Brexit deal with Trump’s US.
Labour has already made its position clear, saying it believes no one should “profiteer from the NHS”.
As The Canary reported, documents released by Jeremy Corbyn showed negotiations for a steep increase in drug prices for the NHS are at an “advanced stage”.
But these documents aren’t just about price increases. They are about the flow of information from the UK to the US. Because the documents show “the free flow of data is a top priority” for the US in trade talks with the UK. And this “free flow of data” could result in US companies getting unlimited access to UK patient health information.
The NHS would no longer have permission to use its own information unless it paid to do so. Otherwise it could be sued. Accounting firm EY has already valued this information at £10bn a year.
Profiteering from health
Dr Rachel Clarke saw this latest revelation as a profit making scheme at the expense of NHS patients:
Author and activist Alex Nunns was scathing of journalists who didn’t take Corbyn’s revelations seriously enough:
Relaxing the rules when it suits
As “the free flow of data is a top priority” for the US, it wants local data restrictions lifted so UK data can be stored abroad.
Additionally, negotiators urged UK officials to move to the more liberal Asia’s Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) as opposed to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules. The GDPR is “one of the toughest online privacy rules in the world”, and it’s legally binding. But the US believes the CBPR is better for business.
Some people online see this as an invasion of privacy and resent companies using their data in this way:
What can be done?
If this agreement becomes reality, it could mean UK patient information would become the property of US corporations. These corporations could then use it for profit. But of course, this doesn’t have to happen. Labour has made its position clear, and it’s the polar opposite of the Conservative position. On 12 December, British people have the power to stop this Tory nightmare from ever becoming a reality.
Featured image via YouTube – Guardian News / Flickr – Stock Catalog