KEEP TRUMP AWAY FROM OUR NHS: Ten ways to protect the NHS from trade deals
Our NHS needs our help
Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are keen to work out a trade deal, and discussions are well in progress. The dangers are very clear – large-scale take-overs by US private companies, reduced access to medication (US politicians have already made it clear that they want to”pressure” the UK through trade negotiations to “pay more” for drugs), the harvesting of our UK patient data by US firms (many US corporations are keen to develop global business models for new markets) and the lowering of standards in medication, technology, and the numbers / skills / pay and conditions of staff (all could be lowered to make our NHS more profitable to US corporations).
The current Campaign focus
With so much going on socially, politically and health-wise right now, your help is urgently required to cut through the noise. The Bill has progressed through the Commons (see lower down this page for specific details) and is now with the House of Lords. The Second Reading in the Lords – the general debate on all aspects of the Bill – is scheduled for Tuesday 8th September 2020. Amendments to this Bill can be suggested by the Lords, and these are now URGENTLY required to safeguard the NHS from privatisation threats.
It is massively important that we get the word out far and wide about the need the need to safeguard the NHS. This means liasing with members of the Lords, whilst at the same time informing the public and maintaining a lobby on ALL of our North East MPs – but the priority is the Lords. Amendments which protect our NHS are still possible, and are urgently needed.
Our Campaign strategy is outlined next – this will be updated as we go along but, for the moment, we have five priority actions and five supplementary actions. All ten actions can be carried out immediately. Please follow the steps below (the information is from ourselves at KONPNE and “We Own It”) and, crucially, please increase the reach of the campaign by asking your friends, family and all contacts to do the same.
We need to KEEP TRUMP AWAY FROM OUR NHS.
Five priority actions:
–> (1) Email six members of the Lords to ask him/her to propose or support Amendments to the Trade Bill which protect the NHS and the UKs wider health and social care sectors from privatisation.
We have read the guidance on communication with the Lords (see here), and it appears that all emails are discounted if over six are sent – ie 6 identical emails from the same email address. So what we would like you to do is send the same email to 6 peers separately (so individually addressed e.g. Dear Baroness Black). Please also note that a number of peers choose to have their own independent email address away from the Parliamentary system, so there are no restrictions on writing to those also.
There are 772 sitting members of the Lords (see here) and, to maximise the effect of this Campaign action, we attach our list of just over 100 peers who have a policy interest in health and medicine. So that we get a spread across these people, please email us at email@example.com, and we will allocate you six names to write to….plus, of course, also write to the peers with independent email addresses.
Additionally, you may already have some form of association with a member of the Lords, and it would be positive to draw upon that. For example, you may wish to write a separate email to a member who lives locally, or who you have contacted in the past, or who heads your religious or political group, or who is patron of eg an organisation or charity you have links with…
It would be really helpful if you would share any replies with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can get a picture of support in the Lords. We can also ensure that supportive peers are contacted further by ourselves.
Our list of peers with an interest in health and medicine is here: Peers with a policy interest in health services and medicine
Ideas regarding the content of your email is on the attachment here: Ideas re your email to the Lords
–> (2) Sign and share these two petitions regarding the Trade Bill
–> (3) Print off and display this A4 window poster – you already know the danger that the NHS is in, but thousands more around the country don’t. Also, please take a photo of yourself with the poster and post it to your social media with the hashtag #HandsOffOurNHS and your personal message (****we are working on this; to be posted asap)
–> (4) Pass on information to your family, friends and contacts – and get their commitment to get involved. Your network of family, friends and contacts will MASSIVELY increase the reach of the Campaign.
–> (5) Write / email / Zoom / facebook / tweet your political group or Union, and request that the Trade Bill is flagged up and included on the agenda URGENTLY. Provide this website page address and attach the “We Own It” briefing on NHS Trade linked here WOI briefing on NHS_Trade
….and, if you have time, five supplementary actions:
–> (6) Email your MP to ask him/her to support any forthcoming post-Lords Amendments to the Trade Bill which protect the NHS and the UKs wider health and social care sectors from privatisation. We need to keep lobbying our MPs about the Bill as, in the autumn, they will be called to vote on any Amendments proposed by the Lords.
In the passage of the Bill through the Commons earlier this year, six North East MPs voted AGAINST Amendments which would have safeguarded the NHS: Guy Opperman (Hexham), Ian Levy (Blyth), Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick), Dehenna Davison (Bishop Auckland), Richard Holden (NW Durham) and Paul Howell (Sedgefield). Are these your representatives in Parliament??
The email addresses of all North East MPs are listed on our website here.
Please feel free to use the draft letter here: Trade Bill letter to MP and attach the information sheet: WOI briefing on NHS_Trade
For info, we are looking for these five principles to be included in the Trade Bill: Trade Bill amendment 5 principles
–> (7) Keep up to date with developments re the Trade Bill – please click the information links further down this page….
–> (8) ….and go one step further – this summer, watch out for all of our social media posts (we post daily on facebook and twitter) and make it a personal aim to share these widely on your own social media. We are on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NHSPublicNorthEast, and twitter at https://twitter.com/KONPNorthEast
–> (9) Write to your local paper / media to highlight your concerns – the more letters get submitted to local papers, the more MPs and peers will realise that they must protect our NHS. If you’ve never written a letter to a newspaper before, it is a straightforward, quick and easy action to take.
We’ve linked a draft letter here: Trade Bill letter to papers – please feel free to change / adapt / use as a guide / personalise it as much as you wish. You will find the email address of your local paper on its website – typically, this will be listed in the “contact us” section.
–> (10) please keep in touch with us at KONPNE and also with the “We Own It” team – we are very interested to know what you are doing – email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org Our NHS CAN be protected from adverse trade deals – this is now our opportunity to achieve this by creating a huge wave of support. Please assist in whatever way you can. Thank you.
Please check out the following links for more information:
> The KONP position statement on the Trade Bill is here: https://keepournhspublic.com/keep-our-nhs-out-of-all-trade-deals/
> Information from We Own It is here: https://weownit.org.uk/nhsphoto
> An open letter has been sent to MPs from over 500 health professionals – this has been devised by local KONPNE member Dr Sarah Walpole and can be seen here: NHS_Staff_OpenLetterToMPs_FINAL
> KONPNE wrote to all 22 North East MPs to get their support for the Bill. After the vote in the Commons, we found that six North East MPs (their names are listed below) voted against Amendments which would have safe-guarded the NHS. Read one of our letters to one of these six MPs here: BLYTH MP email communication It is not yet too late – we are counting on all 22 North East MPs to vote in favour of Amendments proposed by the Lords in autumn 2020.
> The Peoples Assembly discussion “The Future of Our NHS” centres around the 2020 Trade Bill, is extremely informative, and is linked here. Panelists are Jeremy Corbyn (Labour MP for Islington North), John Lister (Health Campaigns Together), Ellen Lees (We Own It) and Laura Pidcock (host)
> Watch the following news item featuring KONPNE member Dr Sarah Walpole: the youtube link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJqsb83bZ3g
> A direct link to the KONPNE video about the Trade Bill is on youtube here: https://youtu.be/lgKa7IShjeI (Accompanying music track Rumble is from www.bensound.com)
The movement of the Bill through Parliament
The Bill was introduced to Parliament in the First Reading on 19th March 2020, at which there was no debate. The Second Reading of the Trade Bill took place on 20th May 2020, and the Hansard record of discussions is here – see contribution of Margaret Greenwood at 4.49pm. So – the risks continue.
The Bill then went through the Committee Stage during w/c 15th and 22nd June; this Committee of 17 selected MPs (10 Conservative, 5 Labour, 2 SNP) scrutinised the Bill and debated a series of possible Amendments. The proposed Amendments included NC12, from the two SNP MP’s (Stewart Hosie MP and Drew Hendry MP), which aimed to ‘ensure that HMG has a duty to restrict market access to healthcare services, including medicines and medical devices. The proposed Amendment is here (see page 21, NC12). This would have achieved much in terms of protecting the NHS but, very disappointingly, the Amendment was voted down by the Committee: 10 votes against, 7 in favour. The record of the committee discussion and voting is here. The membership of this Committee is here .
The Bill thereafter went through the crucial Report Stage on Monday 20th July. Two possible Amendments were of note. One Amendment, tabled by Tory MP Jonathan Djanogly, would have enabled MPs to have more say over future trade deals (info about this specific Amendment is here); this Amendment was voted down, with 263 MPs in favour of it, and 326 against it. A further Amendment relating specifically to the NHS was tabled by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and supported by Labour, but this was also defeated – 251 votes in support of the Amendment and 340 against.
MPs voting against this Amendment, which would have safeguarded the NHS, included six North East MPs: Guy Opperman (Hexham), Ian Levy (Blyth), Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick), Dehenna Davison (Bishop Auckland), Richard Holden (NW Durham) and Paul Howell (Sedgefield). Your representatives in Parliament??
The Report Stage was followed by the Third Reading in the House. Read the Guardian article by Emily Thornberry here.
This brings us up-to-date. The next stage is for the Bill to progress through the House of Lords, where Amendments can be suggested, for presentation back to the Commons. It remains clear that, as long as NHS services are provided by private companies, our NHS is still on the table, no matter what the Government says.
The First Reading in the Lords took place on 21 July. This stage is a formality that signals the start of the Bill’s journey through the Lords. The Second Reading – the general debate on all aspects of the Bill – is scheduled for Tuesday 8th September 2020. Amendments to this Bill can be suggested by the Lords, and these are now URGENTLY required to safeguard the NHS from privatisation threats.
You can keep track of the Parliamentary process and find more info on the progress of the Bill by clicking on the Parliament website here
General information from the Open University about how a Bill moves through Parliament is here