From: David Daniels, Beech House Lane, Robertsbridge
In the recent report on the NHS and future US-UK free trade agreements, the NHS Confederation raised the concern that there are specific risks to the UK in the event of a free trade deal with the US. The stated objective of the US is to “increase opportunities for US firms to sell US products and services to the UK”.
Among the stated US trade objectives are the requirements to restrict the ability of the UK to trade with other countries and require the UK to adopt US standards for regulations based on non precautionary measures in terms of product safety.
Healthcare in the U.S. is about twice as expensive as it is in any other developed country and costs $10,209 per head per year in the US, whereas in the UK it costs $4,246 per head per year. If you need hospitalisation in the US for three days it will probably cost you around $30,000. The UK is 35th in the world in terms of healthcare with an average life expectancy at birth of 81, whereas the US is 54th in the world with an average life expectancy at birth of 79.
One of the main reasons why healthcare costs are so high in the US is the costs of drugs. In most countries, the government negotiates drug prices with the drug makers, but when the US Congress created Medicare Part D, it specifically denied Medicare the right to use its power to negotiate drug prices.
Will a trade deal with the US deny the NHS the ability to negotiate drug prices with the US drug industry? The NHS spends about £16 billion a year on drugs, so given US health care is twice as expensive as in the UK, then might we expect our prescription charges to double in the event of a future US-UK trade agreement.
Given the way in which the US dealt with the recent issue of diplomatic immunity for a US citizen wanted for questioning in the UK, is there much confidence in the likelihood of a fair deal? US companies have real track record when it comes to outmanoeuvring national governments, as can be seen from the track record of Amazon and Google on tax.
I would be interested to hear the views of the prospective parliamentary candidates for this constituency and in particular our current MP, Mr Huw Merriman as to whether he is standing for a party that will accept a US-UK trade deal based on US terms and conditions that will allow US companies free rein when it comes to the NHS and UK taxpayers.