Flash Forward to 2025 : The TTIP Trade Deal Leads to the Collapse and Privatization of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS)


In 2017, the US/EU trade deal called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was signed by Washington and the unelected leaders of the 28 nation European Commission. David Cameron signed Britain up without public debate. The Conservatives won the 2020 general election gaining an even bigger majority, empowering the right-wing party even further but there is likely to be a landslide win for the opposition now that we are just weeks away from the 2025 general election.

More recently, public protest has gained considerable strength in the light of the national health services crisis. In the backdrop of a once proud, efficient and effective NHS, activists have moved from non-violent protest to hostile stand-offs with the police in what is now only perceived by the public as an American corporate pillaging of state owned assets.

Back in 2014-16, British trade unions and activists launched nationwide campaigns to raise awareness against the “dangers” of the planned TTIP agreement for the public health sector.

Doctors in the United Kingdom warned that the passage of TTIP would mean certain death for the country’s public healthcare system, opening the door for privatization and lawsuits from the United States’ for-profit medical industry.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Liverpool, Dr. Henry McKee of Belfast warned members that “if there is anything resembling a National Health Service by the time this treaty is signed, it won’t survive this treaty.”

“The correct motion is to kill this treaty dead, not to tolerate it sneaking in and mugging us,” he added. How right Dr McKee was and “mug us” it did.

Private corporations used the legal agreement process to bully the British authorities into dropping legislation to improve standards. The deal gave big pharmaceutical corporations more power over public access to medicine by undermining government efforts to subsidise pharmaceuticals and medical devices, effectively crippling public healthcare programmes across the country.

By 2022, the government came under fire for their corporate-friendly give-away that promoted business interests above the environment, workers rights, and public health. In Particular, the publicly opposed Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision allowed multinationals to sue the government, for alleged loss of profits due to industry regulations.

American tobacco companies sued government’s all over the world in this way by using the ISDS provision within TTIP.

The ISDS courts went one-way, and got outrageous levels of power over the Government. Corporations and investors sued the Government over regulations that reduced their profits, but not the other way around, so the taxpayer lost billions in litigation fees as investors and corporations launched lawsuit after lawsuit. The arbitration panel’s decisions are binding without appeal, which discouraged the British Government from even proposing laws and regulations that do things like protect consumers and the environment.

When it became apparent what the extent of the damage to the NHS turned out to be with the publication of the All Party Commission Report over public health in 2022 it quickly turned into a PR disaster for the Conservatives. There are now mass protests in every city in the country, every weekend, especially London.

Contracts offered by the NHS had to be tendered and corporations won them all. The NHS was by default, swiftly privatised.

According to the World Bank, in 2015-16, Britain paid 9.1% of GDP to healthcare provision, just ten years later it is now the same as America’s was in 2015 – an eye-watering 17.1%. A new public ‘health tax‘ was imposed and health insurance forced on companies to help pay for the collapsing health service that is now no longer national but largely about ability to pay, exacerbating public anger.

Employers resented being compelled to pay for health insurance premiums and started passing the cost to employees. Today it costs an average in-work family £4,550 and there is a co-pay fee required every time a family member accesses the healthcare system.

Unemployment started to rise as corporations looked to reduce non profit making costs such as healthcare. Since 2017, Just one in 40 jobs created is permanent that comes with health insurance, the ‘trickle down wealth’ promised by politicians failed to materialise. The Government is now spending tens of billions in tax credit top ups to stave off poverty from reaching the middle classes.

The degradation of health care is one of many ills brought about by corporatism – debt is another. Medical bankruptcies – totally unknown in the UK a decade ago is now the fastest category of personal financial disaster leading to complete wipeouts for thousands of families. Home repossessions have increased three-fold in another profit driven scam that was supposed to be covered by the Government. In 2016, average household debt was at its highest at around £10,000, today it has soared 300%(inflation adjusted) as a direct result of contributory healthcare costs and co-pay fees.

To make matters worse, in a recent survey, it was found that 10% of the total healthcare bill in Britain, now standing at almost £300 billion is due to fraud. The government is trying to clean up the industry as fraud cases appear almost daily in the press. As Healthcare Finance said in its 2024 report, “Healthcare fraud continues to anger the industry, as a steady stream of doctors, practice owners, suppliers and even executives are charged weekly with ripping off patients and payers alike.”

Just last week, the biggest scandal to hit the health care business in Britain in recent years involved American private corporations – “They billed for equipment that wasn’t provided, for care that wasn’t needed, and for services that weren’t rendered.” The government went after them and was shocked at the unprecedented scale of fraud involving billions of pounds.

Court documents allege that claims were submitted for unnecessary procedures that often were never even provided, and that in some cases, beneficiaries were paid cash kickbacks for providing their information to healthcare providers who submitted fraudulent claims. Identity fraud soared as hackers sold patient details to private insurance firms as they do the US.

To add insult to injury – another contributing factor is that hospitals charge wildly different amounts for the same procedures. In the most extreme example analysed, the highest charge for an inpatient stay for severe intestinal bleeding was 54 times higher than the lowest charge.

Inequality in Britain in 2015 was already the fourth worst country in the 30 nation OECD and the only country in Europe to rise this century. Now, it is the worst in the OECD because medical insurance and increased taxes has hurt the least well off the most.

Health insurance premiums now outstrip workers annual pay increases causing wave after wave of family emergencies across the nation as the working poor are driven ever more deeply into debt. In 2010, child poverty at 13% was on a steady slow increase through to 2019. In 2020, povertyaction.org produced a report that confirmed income inequality and the additional financial pressures of healthcare costs pushed child poverty beyond the governments own target of 24% to an astonishing 36% by the end of 2025. This report showed that one in every two children in Britain will be totally disadvantaged by 2030. Britain is now divided as two nations – those in poverty and those not in poverty.

Universal Credit and Tax Credits was supposed to catch those less fortunate. Much of these funds ended up being diverted to help pay for a healthcare system was was now recognised in free-fall. The Government even turned nasty out of desperation. Hundreds of thousands of Britain’s poorest people were targeted by private debt collectors hired by the Government after some tax credits were overpaid and as healthcare debts remained unpaid.

Healthcare Foundation Trusts were turned into Mutuals in a privatisation drive to get healthcare off the national books in 2018. The mutuals were a political game plan – a stratagem of deceit. Shares were managed and owned by hedge funds, bankers and international accountancy firms who had little interest in healthcare. By 2022 national care and clinical outcomes and reported patient experience plunged to lows never recorded before and only get worse. Everyone remembers that the NHS was free at the point of use, outcomes were far greater and just as important, a great social leveller.

The press now covers the race to the bottom merely as one medical catastrophe after another. The health service is now centre stage in the political fight that just got even more noxious. As unfettered capitalism has a tendency to spew out extremists, we now have a rival party whose sole focus is the re-nationalisation of health, rail, education and policing. They plan to pay for it by withdrawing Britain’s armed forces from the ever increasing conflict zones of the Middle East, Far East and Russian borders and they are heavily supported by a very war-weary, financially strained public in new polls released yesterday.

The military are now on stand-by. British Army Generals have already stated they won’t stand for a maverick one-policy party in charge of national security. Wikileaks reported only last week of a planned military coup, just like the one covered up in the 1970’s to kill off the Labour party.

These are desperate times. With constant images of child beggars lining every high street in Britain, people dying on stretchers in hospital corridors and the possibility of an extreme left-wing political party being overthrown by a military coup, 2025 looks set to be one historical date to be remembered in this country.

Articles by: Graham Vanbergen

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