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This is inaccurate.
1. Private companies are very happy to buy up services from lucrative, low risk parts of the NHS: young GP patients (Babylon), private orthopaedic operations, community health services (Virgin).
2. What they don’t want is all the expensive unwell patients, for example Circle bought NHS Hinchingbrooke Hospital...and then gave it back again.
Many private hospitals don’t have intensive care for example, so they transfer sick expensive patients to the NHS.
3. The 2012 Health and Social Care Act explicitly made it easier for non-NHS companies to bid for these juicy parts of the NHS. Even suing the NHS when they DON’T get them:…
4. The (now defunct) Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement that was unsuccessfully negotiated between the US-EU, mostly in secret, is a good comparison. It made provisions for US healthcare to bid for, and sue for, govt healthcare contracts, eg the NHS.
5. In this round of US-U.K. trade discussions pharmaceuticals are explicitly discussed as are government services. Drug patents directly affect the cost of NHS drugs, and their availability. The U.K. is one of the worlds biggest users of off-patent or generic medicines.
6. The US does pay 3x the price, but that doesn’t mean they “carry the cost” of drug development, more likely drug costs are vastly inflated in the US as are ALL HEALTHCARE COSTS. And as a market system they negotiate prices poorly.
7. The NHS or NICE is very good at negotiating prices, but patent lengths mean some Drugs only have ONE supplier for a short time, meaning price negotiation is much harder (eg its HIGH).
8. Healthcare is the biggest US sector of industry, it would be ludicrous to suggest they wouldn’t demand it’s inclusion somewhere in any trade deal. Trump has said so repeatedly, especially about the cost of drugs.
9. I would imagine the most likely scenario in a US-U.K. trade deal would look like this:
- alignment of medical device standards
-lengthening of drug patents and active ingredient laws, so drugs stay expensive for longer
- better access for US companies to bid on NHS CONTRACTS
10. This is generally what is meant by “the NHS is on the table”.

Like a Christmas Turkey, nobody wants to eat it whole, and everybody wants to carve a juicy bit off here or there for themselves.

Merry Christmas. #GE2019
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