“Health tourism: the TRUE cost”: “Foreigners using NHS cost Britain up to £2 BILLION a year, government reveals – 100 times more than previously claimed” declares a Daily Mail headline. Yet the reality is very different, and there is little evidence that many people visit the UK for the purpose of getting free medical treatment.
Have we ever had a government with so little regard for truth or accuracy? The tendency for senior Conservatives to routinely ‘misrepresent’ statistics for their own political ends, or make decisions and statements based on ‘feelings’ has developed apace over the past few years. Iain Duncan Smith has been rebuked by the UK Statistics Authority for this habit, as has Grant Shapps, Conservative Party Chairman.
The type of problems at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust in England – where care failings affected patient safety and dignity – would not have happened in an enterprise part-owned by employees, according to care minister Norman Lamb. Yet the drive to remove more health services from NHS control may seriously harm patients.
Tighter restrictions on free National Health Service care, supposedly aimed at ‘health tourists’, would hit many UK taxpayers who are foreign. The proposed changes might also open the door to making citizens pay at a later date, and could cause grave social and economic harm.
When the House of Lords recently passed Section 75 of the Health and Social Care Bill, there was no coverage on BBC News. The significance and contentiousness of this legislation, which opens the NHS up to a free market in healthcare, was explained here by Savi Hensman.