Campaigners today have been out in force warning residents about a transatlantic deal that could lead to the privatisation of the Welsh NHS.
“NHS Wales out of TTIP” are a group of activists dedicated to educating the Welsh public about the dangers of a deal between Europe and the USA called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which in the event of public services being privatised, could see governments being sued for interfering with private companies’ profits.
Today they were out in Cathays in an attempt to garner support to their cause.
Since the devastating financial crash that handicapped nations around the Western world, there have been concerns that public services in Britain could be sold off to private companies as part of cost cutting measures. The biggest concern by far has been the future of the NHS in England, with people worried the Conservative government could allow health services to be sold off.
Though Wales’s health service is devolved, and remains under the control of the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay, campaigners argue that any privatisation in England would have a direct and negative impact on health services this side of the Severn Bridge.
Leigh Jones, who has been campaigning since July last year against the TTIP and spent today knocking on doors in Cathays, said his group’s aim was to educate people on the realities of privatisation and the TTIP deal.
He said: “Our aim is to make residents aware of what the TTIP is, what it stands for, how it affects the people of Cardiff, and how it affects the NHS. The TTIP agreement could lead to the privatisation of the NHS. So in future, you could be paying for the hospital services you use today. The proposals for the agreement were all done behind closed doors, so it’s our remit and aim to get it out in the public domain. Because Wales’s health service is devolved, people aren’t too aware of the dangers, but we believe that privatisation across Europe will lead to privatisation in Wales.”
Mr Jones explained that Welsh patients who had to use services in England would be affected if the English NHS was no longer run by its government. He said: “If you think it’s just an English problem, you’re wrong. I live in North Wales. My auntie, who had a serious issue, had to go to an English hospital for treatment and some children in South Wales use services in Bristol. We’ve just campaigned in Newtown, and a lot of them there use the hospital in Shrewsbury.”
Mr Jones and his group will be campaigning once again on Albany Road on Thursday, handing out leaflets and placards. Over 100 residents have agreed to have anti-TTIP signs in their front gardens and windows later this month. Mr Jones said the group’s campaigning was having a positive effect. He said: “We started this campaign in July in Whitchurch. People didn’t know what TTIP was. Now we’ve taken this campaign around Wales and slowly but surely people know what it’s about.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The NHS in Wales is devolved and we are proud our health service, unlike the increasingly fragmented health service in England, continues to remain true to Aneurin Bevan’s founding principles. We have a planned health service in Wales and healthcare for the people of Wales is comprehensive, universal and free at the point of access. We would not wish to see this compromised in any way by external interference and would vigorously resist any attempts to do this. However, the First Minister has written to the Prime Minister to demand a guarantee that TTIP will not affect our ability to deliver public services as we see fit.”