Socialist Worker

Corbyn shows Tories are patently trying to privatise the NHS

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2683

Health campaigners march against privatisation

Health campaigners march against privatisation (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Jeremy Corbyn declared that “the election is now a fight for the survival of our NHS” after he revealed a Tory dossier on Wednesday.

The Labour leader said the official documents show the NHS is on the table in British government trade talks with Donald Trump. He had waved aloft a redacted version of papers during the ITV News head-to-head with Boris Johnson last week.

At that leaders’ debate Johnson denied that the NHS would be opened to US corporations after Brexit. He and other ministers repeated the denial after launching the Tory manifesto last weekend.

But at a press conference Corbyn said the “uncensored documents leave Boris Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters”. “What Ihave here are 451 pages of unredacted documents and information,” he said.

“Perhaps he would like to explain why these documents confirm the US is demanding the NHS is on the table in the trade talks.

“Voters need to ask themselvessome very serious questions—is the NHS safe in Boris Johnson’s hands?”

He added, “We’ve now got evidence that under Boris Johnson, the NHS is on the table and will beup for sale.

“They tried to cover it up, but their secret agenda today is exposed.”

Patents 

Labour said the documents are from trade meetings between US and British officials that were held between July 2017 and July 2019. Theresa May was prime minister during this period.

Corbyn said a Tory trade deal would allow US pharmaceutical corporations to lengthen patents, stopping the NHS buying cheaper generic medicines.  He pointed to the drug Humira, which is used to treat Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

 “It costs our NHS £1,409 a packet,” he explained. “In the US, the same packet costs £8,115. Get the difference—£1,409 in ourNHS, £8,115 in the US.

“One of the reasons for US drug prices being on average 250 percent of those here is a patent regime rigged for the big pharmaceutical companies.”

Labour has pledged to set up a “generic drug company” to stop corporations ripping off the health service.

Johnson’s denials over NHS privatisation came after his pledge of “50,000 more nurses” fell apart last weekend. It turned out to include around 18,000 nurses the government hopes to retain.

It shows Johnson cannot be trusted on the NHS.

Whatever the content of the documents that Labour has released, NHS services are already open to corporations.

Stopping them means ending the NHS internal market and all privatisation—and that starts with kicking out the Tories. 


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