NHS prices: Will NHS prices go up? Will the NHS be privatised?
Boris Johnson has secured a majority of 80 seats in this general election, a huge win for the Conservative Party and a major defeat for the Labour Party. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has centred much of his campaign on the NHS, and the idea Boris Johnson will ‘sell off’ it off to the US. But is this outcome likely now the Conservatives are back in power?
For a number of years now, services across the NHS have already been outsourced to private providers.
However, there have been concerns raised recently that more NHS services could be outsourced.
A trade deal with the US and the UK has been a particular sticking point for the Labour Party, who have argued a Conservative government will sell off aspects of the NHS to American companies.
The pros and cons associated with privatising aspects of NHS services are complicated and lengthy.
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But one argument in favour of privatised services is it can increase patient choice in the NHS, allowing people to choose where they want to be treated, and what treatments to have.
Other arguments in favour of privatisation are that it can increase efficiency in the health service.
It can be argued the current NHS model is struggling to keep up with increasing pressure, and perhaps a restructuring to include more privatised services will help the NHS to evolve and keep up with demand.
However, some people are concerned privatisation of services provides issue with continuity of care, which affects patients dependent on these services, as ultimately private companies will not carry on a service which is unprofitable.
There is also the issue of transparency with pricing, with confidential business contracts potentially hiding the true extent of public spending costs.
Will NHS prices go up? Will the NHS be privatised?
On the topic of a US-UK trade deal, President Donald Trump previously said: “I think everything with the trade deal is on the table.
“NHS or anything else … everything will be on the table, absolutely.”
The US president later made a U-turn on the comments in an interview with Good Morning Britain’s Piers Morgan, stating: “I don’t see it being on the table. Somebody asked me a question today and I say everything is up for negotiation, because everything is.
“But I don’t see that as being, that’s something that I would not consider part of trade. That’s not trade.”
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Mr Corbyn recently revealed he had been given access to internal documents from the Department of International Trade.
In these documents, the Labour leader argued Mr Johnson had shown willingness to extend access to the NHS for US companies.
However, according to Full Fact, the independent fact checking charity, this claim may have been blown out of proportion.
According to Full Fact: “Trade deals don’t usually seek to redesign public services, how they’re funded or who pays for them, and US companies already have the right to bid for private NHS contracts in England.
“There’s a suggestion that a US trade deal might hinder the ability of any future government to reduce the levels of private provision within the NHS.
“What’s more likely is that the NHS pays more to buy drugs from US companies.
“The United States has argued that bargaining on drug prices by publicly-funded health systems such as the NHS means those other countries pay less for US pharmaceuticals, and says foreign consumers are “freeloading” at the expense of consumers in the US.
“It also fits with US priorities from past trade negotiations.”
However, the charity states increased drug prices aren’t a certain consequence of such a trade deal.
Using Australia as a case study, their trade deal with US showed the gap between the amount Australians and Americans paid for medicines “didn’t close at all”.
Since the accusations were made against him, Mr Johnson has repeatedly denied the NHS is “on the table”, and now he has been elected for another term, only time will tell if this remains to be the case.
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