Nigel Farage speaks inconvenient truths about the NHS
Many found Nigel Farage's intervention about the NHS and HIV to be crass. Perhaps it was. But his underlying argument shows a far more profound understanding of our creaking National Health Service than any of the other parties which, rather pathetically, continue to play politically correct games with it
Lack of political and economic realism was on full display when Nigel Farage spoke the truth about HIV infected foreign patients using the resources of Britain’s NHS.
The whole Westminster political class and the Trainspotting street socialist SNP united in moral-high-ground condemnation of Mr Farage, yet not one of them could say why he was wrong.
Mr Miliband, for example, admitted that the NHS is so short of resources that patients in some areas had to be treated in a hospital car park. But if that is true, was not Nigel Farage right to condemn the health service for putting the treatment of foreigners above the needs of those who have paid for that health service and now find themselves being treated in a car park?
Mr Miliband’s solution to hospital car park treatment in the NHS is to promise £2∙5 billion in extra funding. But such a promise shows the Labour Party to be in total denial about the nature of the economic problems facing the NHS.
Consider this fact. Public Health England estimates that of the almost 108,000 people who are HIV positive, almost 60,000 are from Africa. The cost to the NHS of anti-retroviral drug treatment for these African health tourists is well over £1 billion annually and rising, as more and more Africans and others hear about what’s on offer from the tax payer.
And it’s not only HIV tourists. There is the same costly problem with Hepatitis B, another big crowd-puller from all over the world to the NHS, and a disease which can be even more costly than HIV to treat.
But the costs of health tourism to the tax payer are not confined to medical treatment alone. Many of those HIV tourists would be in receipt of housing and other welfare allowances, quite possibly for the rest of their lives.
With the NHS such a milch cow for the world, Mr Miliband’s extra funding of £2∙5 billion is laughable. The African health tourists would not give him much change from such a measly sum, so he might just as well spend the £2∙5 billion on building more hospital car parks for treating those who have paid into the system all their lives.
But of course Mr Miliband and his Labour Party are not the only self-delusionists when it comes to the NHS.
The hilarious Green Party believes the NHS should, almost as a legal entitlement apparently, become a world health service (entitlements regardless of passport, as they put it), to be funded by closing down much of the wealth-producing industrial base of the country.
But while the cranky Greens have no chance of winning power, the Labour Party does have a real chance and that means the NHS will continue to be abused and used as a political football with no chance of essential economic reforms.
The British Labour Party, once a genuine British workers’ party, has now morphed into a fanatically pro-immigration welfarist party that uses the NHS for its own political ends. It turns all debate on the NHS into a party political competition about who will pour the most money into a voracious NHS bottomless pit.
As a result, the Labour Party denies the most important and, in the long run, unavoidable economic fact about the NHS -- that its problems are not only lack of resources, but virtually unlimited demand for its services.
Nigel Farage is the only political leader who dared to address this vital demand side of the NHS problem, and for his troubles the political establishment ostracised him.
The Westminster class tut-tutted their moral superiority (how could Farage be so cruel to Africans?) even though that same Westminster political elite presided over the Stafford hospital scandal where over a thousand patients may have died through neglect and bad NHS care.
Looked at rationally, the NHS is no different from any other economic enterprise. It needs resources to satisfy a demand for its product -- health care. Resources are always limited (we don’t live in paradise).
Therefore, with virtually unlimited demand coming up against limited resources, there will always be a need to make difficult choices -- do we treat the world’s HIV sufferers or buy cancer drugs for those who have paid into the NHS all their lives?
That’s the point Nigel Farage was making about African HIV tourists to the NHS. Money spent on them is money taken away from others.
And of course Mr Farage could have made the same point about those boastful aggressive drunks who clog up A&E departments every night. On one estimate, over 2 million people a year end up in A&E as a result of binge drinking, at an annual cost of over £3 billion.
That’s not what the NHS was set up for, so why should it be carrying these costs?
The same point could also be made -- more controversially perhaps -- about abortion. The NHS spends well over £100 million annually on abortions, most of which are for social, not strictly medical, reasons.
Should the NHS be financially responsible for abortions of social convenience?
One could also ask the same question about sex change operations and the latest “transitioning” to transgendering for five-year-olds who feel they are in the wrong body. And gastric band stapling operations for people whose idea of dieting is getting stuck in to an all-you-can-eat-for-a-fiver feast instead of one for a tenner.
In all sanity, should the NHS be funding the over-indulged liberal state in this way?
The fact is that there is no long-term escape from the demand-side problems of the NHS, but the mainstream political class refuse to face up to this fact. They pump more and more resources into a black hole and still end up treating people in car parks.
In Britain today, increased resources simply pull in more and more demand from a growing immigrant population, many of whom don’t work (young families) or are in low -pay and low-tax jobs, and from those who come specifically for free medical treatment.
Turning the NHS into a world health service and a treatment centre for a range of social pathologies such as over drinking and over eating is a denial of the NHS’s founding principles, yet incredibly those such as Nigel Farage who draw attention to this fact are treated as moral pariahs.
The political class should understand that the NHS was not set up for leftists or liberals to display their love of the Third World or to fund their pet liberal causes. The NHS was set up to look after the health of the British people.
That, basically, was what Nigel Farage was saying.
Vincent Cooper is a regular contributor to The Commentator
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