Hustings audience demands election candidates take the NHS ‘off the table’

Local residents in Hastings and Rye are demanding their General Election candidates take the NHS ‘off the table’ in a trade deal with the USA, by ending privatisation.

Candidates from all parties standing in Hastings and Rye were asked to make the pledge at Station Plaza Health Centre on December 8th but only Labour’s Peter Chowney has agreed to sign.

This is part of a campaign coordinated by a coalition of NHS campaigners, led by Keep Our NHS Public and We Own It.

The campaigners claim the NHS cannot be protected from a trade deal without ending privatisation. They argue that as long as private companies are able to compete for NHS contracts, the health service will automatically be ‘on the table’ in any future deal.

Peter Chowney, Labour candidate for Hastings and Rye, said: “Labour will spend more on our underfunded healthcare system to help our nurses, doctors and health workers do their jobs. But it’s not just about spending more. Privatisation and ‘internal markets’ have just led to more bureaucracy and spiralling costs – with no benefit to patients. We need to change that and make our NHS work more closely with the local community. It’s not too late to stop more damage to our NHS.”

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Peter Chowney with campaigners outside the Station Plaza Health Centre on Saturday.

Over 38,000 emails have been sent to parliamentary candidates calling for the NHS to be protected. More than 250 candidates have already signed the pledge, from every political party.

Over 900,000 people have also signed a Change.org petition calling for the NHS to be kept out of trade deals – launched by NHS doctor and member of Keep Our NHS Public, Sonia Adesara.

In October, a poll carried out by Survation, found that the public don’t believe government claims that the NHS is not ‘on the table’. Only 31 per cent of the public said they believe Prime Minister Boris Johnson is telling the truth, whereas 45 per cent of the public think he is not.

Additionally, the poll found that 57 per cent of people are either ‘very concerned’ or ‘quite concerned’ about the impact a trade deal with the US could have on the NHS. The poll also showed that the overwhelming majority of the public don’t want the NHS included in any trade deals with any other country.

Ellen Lees – Campaigns Officer at We Own It said: “The NHS is the most important issue for voters in this election campaign. And the public don’t want to see it sold off as part of a trade deal with Donald Trump. The only way we can prevent that is to end privatisation and ensure that the NHS is a fully public institution. Otherwise, the NHS will be automatically on the table in any trade deal with the US.

“It’s absolutely vital that all parliamentary candidates join other leading politicians – including Jeremy Corbyn, Liz Saville-Roberts, Philippa Whitford and Caroline Lucas – in pledging to take our NHS off the table once and for all by ending privatisation.”

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