Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Briefing

Will the NHS be on Trump’s trade table?

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 12 June 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l4168

Linked opinion

The message from UK doctors is clear—our NHS is not for sale

  1. Adrian O’Dowd, freelance journalist
  1. Kent, UK
  1. adrianodowd{at}

NHS services are already run by foreign private operators, but the US might negotiate on drug pricing and data access in any post-Brexit deal. Adrian O’Dowd reports

What did Trump say?

During his UK state visit on 3-5 June the US president, Donald Trump, said, “When you’re dealing with trade, everything is on the table—so, the NHS or anything else, or a lot more than that.” However, less than 24 hours later he changed his mind, saying that he did not consider the NHS to be part of trade. Shortly before the trip the US ambassador had claimed that “the entire” UK economy, specifically including healthcare, “would be on the table” in any bilateral trade deal after Brexit.

What was the reaction?

UK politicians from all major parties rejected the idea. A petition titled “Donald Trump: hands off our NHS!” has received more than 330 000 signatures.1 And, in a survey of 1024 British people, only 17% thought that the …

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