NHS trade deal campaigners to march through Sheffield

Sheffied students and the People's NHS protested over Nick Clegg's refusal to protect the NHS from TTIP. They are pictured with a giant banner at the Victoria Halls student accommodation on Eldon Street.
Sheffied students and the People's NHS protested over Nick Clegg's refusal to protect the NHS from TTIP. They are pictured with a giant banner at the Victoria Halls student accommodation on Eldon Street.
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Hundreds of protesters are expected to march through Sheffield as part of a campaign aimed at protecting the NHS from a trade deal.

This week a giant banner urging David Cameron and Nick Clegg to ‘stop the irreversible sell off of the NHS’ was unveiled at student halls, on Eldon Street, Sheffield, by students and campaigners from The People’s NHS.

It is the latest move in a drive to get Mr Clegg to sign a pledge urging the Government to remove the NHS from trade deal the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership - and the next will be a march through Endcliffe Park on Saturday.

Some fear the controversial deal will mean private companies could sue the Government for billions of pounds if it tries to take privatised health services back into public hands in the future.

Mr Clegg has previously said the EU commissioner negotiating the deal has confirmed the agreement does not require opening public health services to the NHS.

Politics student Lee Holland, who lives in the Sheffield Hallam constituency and is involved in the campaign, said: “The assurances that he has given are not what is happening - the NHS is still in the trade deal. A future Government might want to renationalise the NHS and wouldn’t be able to, it’s happened in other trade deals.

“We don’t want to see it happen to the NHS and we’ll continue to campaign on this as long as it takes.”

The Government argues TTIP will boost the economy and help businesses.

Other candidates in Sheffield Hallam have signed the pledge, although Conservative candidate Ian Walker has not.

Mr Walker said there was ‘no need’ to sign the pledge because ‘TTIP has in it protections for the NHS, and the US and EU negotiators are aware of that.’

He said the deal would go through Parliament for scrutiny and people were ‘drumming up unfounded concerns.’

Mr Clegg said he hadn’t signed the pledge ‘because you don’t need to’ and he had met with EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström on the issue.

He added: “I would not sign up to any trade deal that poses a threat to the NHS.”

The march on Saturday sets off from Endcliffe Park at 11am and will head to Fulwood.

Between 100 and 300 people are expected to attend.