Wednesday, 07 March 2018 06:29


SNP MSP Ash Denham has warned that there must be an explicit exemption of NHS Scotland from future trade deals post-Brexit.

This follows an evidence session at Holyrood’s Health and Sport Committee today in which the BMA warned that they were: “clear that the NHS should be exempted from any future international trade deal.”
Other experts giving evidence from the Nuffield Trust and ASH Scotland agreed that it NHS Scotland could be exempted from trade deals and for the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government to have input into the trade deals that could impact the NHS in Scotland.
Mark Dayan, Policy Analyst at Nuffield Trust, cited the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that exempts some Canadian states and territories as a precedent that already exists in which exemptions already exist in a large-scale trade deal.  
Ash Denham MSP, deputy convener of Holyrood’s Health and Sports Committee, said:
“Today’s evidence couldn’t be clearer, a Tory-Trump trade deal could seriously damage our NHS. So it is little surprise that there is a clear consensus that NHS Scotland should be explicitly exempted from any future trade deals.
“The danger looms as the Tories are lining up a Brexit power grab on the Scottish Parliament – and we won’t stand for it. They can’t be allowed grab powers from Scotland that would allow them to sign-up to bad trade deals that damage our health service.  
“We only have to look at the NHS in England to know that creeping privatisation of the health service is not in the interest of patients or healthcare staff. Our message is clear – Scotland’s publicly-owned NHS is not for sale.”

The BMA’s written submission to the Health and Sport Committee said:
“the BMA is clear that the NHS should be exempted from any future international trade deal.
This would preserve the current arrangements and lack of competition in Scotland, where, unlike the NHS in England, there is no purchaser/provider split and the role of the market is significantly limited.
Currently, EU regulations mean that:

  • There is a requirement for commissioners to advertise contracts valued above certain specific thresholds, in the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union).
  • There are rules that ban co-operation between providers and commissioners of services which might limit competition. However, where the purchaser-provider split does not apply, as in the Welsh NHS and Scottish NHS, then neither do these rules.

However, where the purchaser-provider split does not apply, as in the Welsh NHS and Scottish NHS, then neither do these rules.”
Giving evidence this morning, Mark Dayan, Policy Analyst at Nuffield Trust said:
It is also certainly possible within international trade deals to either limit the sectors covered or to limit the institutions covered so for instance you could say that Scottish health boards are not one of the bodies subject to this trade deal. There’s an element of that for instance in the recent Canada-Europe trade agreement. So I would say the important thing is what’s written in the trade deal, there is a place there for exemptions – and that includes exemptions at the level of bodies potentially in a Scottish within a UK context. For example, there are some Canadian states and territories which are or are not included in their trade deal, so I think that is possible and there is important implications at a Scottish as opposed to a whole UK level in which it would make a lot of sense for the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government to have some sort of input into.
Ash Denham MSP: Does the rest of the panel agree with that?
John Watson, ASH Scotland: Yes…

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