NHS Chief Executive was a founder member of an organisation lobbying for health to be included in TTIP

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Posted Feb 3 2016 by Dave Darby of Lowimpact.org

Just allow a few seconds for that to sink in. Simon Stevens was Vice President of UnitedHealth Group, the largest health insurer in the US. He was in charge of global expansion of their business. Now he’s Chief Executive of the NHS. He was a founder member of the Alliance for Healthcare Competitiveness, a pro-TTIP lobby group that campaigned for health to be included in TTIP, a trade deal that allows multinational corporations to sue governments who introduce legislation that harms their profits. See here and here for more of an explanation of this.

This is from the Alliance for Healthcare Competitiveness:

The health sector will be one of the world’s main future drivers of demand and growth… This gives the United States a significant opportunity… We know that as hospitals gain rights of establishment abroad, they become natural buyers of American medical devices, natural users of American health IT systems, natural telemedicine customers of U.S.-based hospitals, and natural partners for American doctors and medical schools. Trade negotiations on behalf of the sector as a whole have the potential to unleash powerful synergies

Or in other words, from ‘Physicians for a National Health Programme’, the role of the AHC is to:

lobby for the export of the failing US model of healthcare abroad.

I’m not going to make any claims of corruption of course, but do you think there might have been any in his appointment as NHS chief? Or do you think that there was no ideology, or corruption, or greed, or self-interest, or bullying, or anything else untoward in his appointment – that it was purely based on merit, not financial interests?

Meanwhile, the government has blocked access to legal documents that could reveal the extent to which multinational corporations in the health sector could sue European governments who introduce any legislation that harms their profits. And of course further expansion of the NHS, or preventing its sell-off to the corporate sector would harm their profits.

Here is a request for access to those documents via a Freedom of Information request.

The request is:

I am writing to ask to be given any legal evidence that you or your government may have that proves the NHS will not be subject to this trade deal (TTIP).

The response starts off encouragingly:

TTIP is a trade deal about which there is significant public interest, particularly regarding the NHS. We recognise the importance of disclosing information wherever possible. There is a public interest in public authorities being accountable for the quality of their decision making, and ensuring that decisions have been made on the basis of good quality legal advice is part of that accountability. Transparency in the decision making process and access to the information upon which decisions have been made can enhance accountability particularly over significant trade deals such as this.

But it doesn’t last, I’m afraid:

However, this has to be weighed against a strong public interest that Ministers and officials are able to discuss and debate possible options fully and robustly with lawyers. Ministers and officials need space in which to seek candid advice from their lawyers. They are less likely to seek such advice if there is an expectation that it will subsequently be disclosable.

And to finish:

Taking into account all the circumstances of this case, we have concluded that the balance of the public interest favours withholding this information.

The public interest? Really? Is there anyone left who thinks that our corporate-state alliance is acting in the public interest? And yet the sham goes on.

In fact, the promised transparency of TTIP was a lie. Here is a sample document from recent EU trade negotiations with the tobacco industry:

redact

And they’re almost all like that. Heavily redacted, totally secret. These documents didn’t even reveal the names of the people involved in the negotiations, let alone their content. How can secrecy in negotiations with the tobacco industry be in the public interest? Here’s more, from Corporate Europe Observatory.

Contact StopTTIPuk to find out how you can become involved in fighting TTIP.