Negotiations are currently taking place on a US/EU free trade agreement known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). One effect of this, if agreement is reached, will be to make it virtually impossible to reverse the current privatization of NHS services.
FTAs cover services, not just goods. They allow multinational corporations to compete for business in this country without limits on their activities, and provide ‘investor protection’ through rights to sue if anything happens to limit their expected future profit – such as a new public health policy to reduce smoking. These rights to sue, once granted, are made above the level of UK law. There is mounting opinion that the Health and Social Care Act was developed to pave the way for the TTIP, by opening up the NHS to competition. For more detail, see our section on the TTIP under “The Big Ideas” at http://www.patients4nhs.org.uk/the-big-ideas/.