Letter to the Guardian April 2016

Just written to the Guardian for the first time in my life. Had to wait until daughters asleep and not using their iPads so I could do so, as I only have my phone with me on holiday.

But I am so cross about this – and disappointed.

Letter says –

It’s disappointing to find the Guardian repeating the view that Brexit is required to save the NHS because of TTIP. The piece by Lord Owen in the online edition cites (as so many others have) the UNITE legal advice based on the TTIP texts from 8 months ago. These do not represent the current position. UNITE themselves want the UK to remain in the EU. EU democratic processes (which are not perfect, but neither are the UK’s) have secured significant changes to the proposed dispute settlement system. Protections for public services are embedded in the TTIP text. The European Commission has formally assured our House of Commons Health Committee that they apply to the NHS, even a future NHS brought fully back into public ownership. This is true for public services in EU law in general – as for instance the Services Directive (which excludes health services altogether) demonstrates. The European Parliament, in particular, has made sure the EU’s TTIP negotiating texts are freely available, securing unprecedented transparency for an agreement of this type. . The greatest threat to the NHS remains the policy of successive British governments, based on the idea that a market is the best approach to efficiency, and undermining the historic approach to the NHS as a service based on need and dignity, with no place for austerity narratives. The contrast with what Obama has managed to achieve at US federal level could not be starker. Staying in the EU keeps us within that kind of vision for a public national health service.

Letter was not published.

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