A recent episode of Dispatches has everyone talking.
“Our national health service will not be on the table.”
This is a quote from PM Boris Johnson, discussing the potential of a post-Brexit trade deal with America. It features right at the beginning of a recent episode of Dispatches – titled Trump’s Plan for the NHS – which was shown on Monday, October 28th 2019 on Channel 4.
However, it’s quickly undercut with a separate statement from President Donald Trump: “Everything’s on the table… so NHS or anything else.”
With public concern escalating daily regarding the future of UK health services, Antony Barnett spends the episode discovering how a trade deal with America may force the NHS to pay a great deal more for US medicines, creating serious issues for our healthcare.
Dispatches: Trump’s Plan for the NHS
“The UK in a Brexit situation is going to be the weaker negotiating party,” says Tahir Amin, a lawyer and drug pricing expert who has previously been involved in US negotiations.
The documentary episode revealed that senior British civil servants have been meeting with representatives of US companies to debate the future of the NHS post-Brexit. Boris Johnson – in the earlier quote – declared that it was off the table, but the findings of the documentary highlight that the talks currently underway contradict such a statement.
It’s been reported that US drug company representatives have already held numerous meeting with British officials, with two said to have taken place in Washington.
This is going on in secret; Dispatches has aimed to raise awareness and public knowledge, and in that, it has achieved success.
THREAD: 1/10 Dispatches has found that secret meetings have taken place between senior civil servants and representatives of US pharmaceutical firms where the price the NHS pays for its drugs has been discussed.
— Channel 4 Dispatches (@C4Dispatches) October 28, 2019
Mum’s the word?
Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth argued: “These revelations that trade officials had secret face-to-face discussions with US pharmaceutical giants to make the NHS pay more for US medicines shows you can’t believe a word Boris Johnson says on the NHS.”
Tahir Amin later said that things may continue to progress secretly as a result of using coded language so that words like NHS were not mentioned as to avoid accusation etc.
Ultimately, serious measures are being taken to keep the general public in the dark about these negotiations. This Dispatches episode has surely helped the situation a great deal, and one person, in particular, has shared his thoughts…
This confirms what we know would happen with a Johnson-Trump trade deal. The Tories would put our NHS at the mercy of US pharmaceutical, tech and private healthcare companies.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 28, 2019
Audiences head to Twitter
Jeremy Corbyn tweeted [above] about his perspective on the episode, expressing: “This confirms what we know would happen with a Johnson-Trump trade deal. The Tories would put our NHS at the mercy of US pharmaceutical, tech and private healthcare companies. We will stop a No Deal Brexit and Johnson’s sell out Brexit deal. #Dispatches.”
One viewer wrote: “Ok, it’s time to really take this Americanised NHS service seriously now. This cannot be good for OUR Health Service. OUR #NHS, #Dispatches.”
Summarising, another passionate viewer relayed: “If, as a result of Brexit, the UK had to accept US-equivalent drug pricing as part of any future American trade deal, it would add £27bn a year to NHS costs. Equivalent to adding an extra 10% onto income tax. #Dispatches.”
Dispatches, your work is very much appreciated.
In other news, here’s how to watch Limetown starring Jessica Biel.