LibLink: Sal Brinton: Ministers must protect our NHS against privatisation

This week, Sal Brinton and others argued in the House of Lords that action was needed to ensure that Brexit didn’t open the door to privatisation of the NHS.

She wrote about the issue for The House magazine:

If you asked most people what effect Brexit would have on our health service, regardless of how they voted in the Referendum, I suspect they will cite that large red bus from the Leave referendum campaign stating the EU costs the UK £350m per week, which on leaving could be invested in the NHS. Not only was this untrue, but there are now figures to show that the cost of leaving to our economy could be equal to £350m per week. And, at a time of unprecedented pressure on the NHS, it needs urgent and real investment to prevent it crumbling.

However, one of the lesser known pillars of protecting our NHS is also at risk with Brexit. With more and more parts of its services being put out to tender, the NHS has been protected by the EU Directive on Public Health Procurement. This directive governs the way in which public bodies purchase goods, service and works and seeks to guarantee equal access and fair competition for public contracts in the EU markets. It was approved in 2014 and includes protection for clinical services and more legal clarity on the application of procurement rules.

She also looked at some of the wider impacts on the Health Service that Brexit will have:

So I am seeking for confirmation from the government that they will stand by their words in 2014, and re-enact these procurement rules for public services into UK law, to continue to protect the NHS from future trade agreements.

Another key element of these procurement rules that needs to be protected is accessibility. This has meant that public money should no longer be used to introduce or maintain inaccessible structures, systems or services. It is essential for disabled people that these accessibility rules continue.

There are many other issues that are affecting the health and welfare of people in the UK which I know will be covered in the debate. The reduction of EU workers is already having an impact on our hospitals and social care services, from clinical to support staff. Leaving Euratom risks supplies of radioactive material required for treatment and research. The loss of the European Medicines Agency headquarters from London, and our influence over it will be very serious.

You can read the whole article here.

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