Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Trade Agreements

Brexit: the NHS is far safer inside the European Union

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 04 May 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2489
  1. Martin McKee, professor of European public health
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1H 9SH, UK
  1. Martin.mckee{at}

Concerns about the EU’s international trade agreements are being addressed

Is the survival of the NHS threatened by continued British membership of the European Union? You might easily believe this if you listen to those arguing for “Brexit.” Their arguments focus, firstly, on the money that they say is denied to the NHS because of payments to the EU—a claim demolished by the Institute for Fiscal Studies,1 the Treasury,2 and many others—and, secondly, on what was, until recently, a rather obscure international trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which if agreed would ease trade between the EU and the United States.

Many of us have been seriously concerned about TTIP. Public services, such as health, social care, and education, long considered matters of national responsibility, could be opened up to international trade. Existing public providers simply would not be able to compete with the might of global corporations.

TTIP would also disempower national governments, with their decisions open to challenge …

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