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The SNP is launching its election campaign with a headline promise to bring forward legislation to protect the NHS from privatisation and future trade deals.
The NHS Protection Bill would block any UK government from using the NHS as a ‘bargaining chip’ in trade talks, even though the Conservatives have denied that such an outcome would happen.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the NHS should not be for sale ‘at any price’, and the Labour Party has claimed a Conservative trade deal with the US after Brexit could cost the NHS £500 million a week by driving up the price of medicines.
The move would also require the ‘explicit approval’ of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Parliaments before any new trade deal could be signed, so they could agree that there was ‘no negative impact’ on the NHS or the price of medications in their countries.
Sturgeon said: "The NHS in Scotland is run in Scotland, for Scotland and under the SNP it will always be in public hands. Our NHS is not for sale at any price. And while the Scottish Parliament has control of health policy, we cannot currently stop Westminster signing away that protection in a trade deal, or entering agreements that dramatically push up drug prices or risk our public services, including the NHS.
"So in order to deal with the immediate threat from the Tories' post-Brexit plans, the SNP will bring forward a bill that would protect the NHS across the whole of the UK from ever being harmed by a Tory-Trump trade deal."
The First Minister has pledged to put opposition to Brexit and backing for a new independence referendum ‘at the heart’ of the SNP's election bid.