Bloody foreigners coming over here and taking our medicines

Last night, during the party leader’s debate on TV, Nigel Farage was told that he should be ashamed of himself when he sort of said that people with HIV/AIDS come to the UK to get free treatment. But, of course, that’s just a part of his party’s xenophobic, keep the others out message.

Firstly, his figures aren’t quite accurate. Secondly, the ‘foreigners’ refers to people born abroad. It’s not clear how long these people have been in the UK; and it’s quite possible that they are British citizens.

The NHS is one of the most distinguishing features of the UK. It was born in post-war austerity—an austerity and rationing almost inconceivable today—and it remains the most cost-effective, comprehensive, competent health care system of any in the world. It means that you and I will not be bankrupted by illness.

Is there such a thing as ‘health tourism’? In a reverse way, yes. Plenty of Brits go to Hungary or India for dental or cosmetic procedures; the cost in these countries is much less than here, so they can get a free holiday on top of their treatment. But these are fringe procedures, as any ‘private’ procedures are, the ‘cream’. If you need something more complex, such as intensive care, you and I simply cannot afford this privately.

If you have HIV/AIDS you need treatment, not discrimination; you need comfort, not the slightly disguised moralistic condemnation of your lifestyle. And with treatment you can remain in a stable condition, and flourish.

There are residence conditions that you must fulfil if you seek treatment for on-going illness on the NHS, illnesses which aren’t emergencies. But if you, a visitor and have an emergency, your initial treatment will be free.

A well respected US obstetric and gynaecology specialist, and blogger, Dr Jen Gunter visited the UK last summer. Her son got something in his eye when visiting Westminster Abbey. She was unable to remove this, despite buying a bottle of Evian and trying to flush out his eye. She took him to St Thomas’s Hospital, just across the river. What then happened amazed her (here); most of the 800-odd commentators weren’t amazed at all.

That is the NHS I recognise. We all recognise that things aren’t perfect, that they could be improved; and if we are politicians, we see the ‘need’ for ‘change’. But many of today’s problems are the result of politicians interference. Remember the Tories’ promise of ‘no top-down reorganisation’ (for England and Wales)? That at least hasn’t happened here. And the NHS is ‘for all’, not just those deemed acceptable by a political party.

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  • Dan

    The Brits who go to Hungary or India pay for their treatment.
    Nor do they require lifelong treatment, and all the welfare back up those who Farage started the debate about last night.
    Crucial difference.
    Maybe next debate he can expand and spell out the costs of all the other wonderful diseases making a reappearance since the advent of open door immigration and health service treatment to the world.

    Xenophobic, my arse

  • Brian O’Neill

    “According to a recent study by researchers at University College London, the average recent migrant to Britain from within the EU is in his twenties and costs the National Health Service (NHS) less than the average native. No figures exist comparing their demands on the British welfare state with those of Britons on the Spanish system. But such Brits are generally older and less healthy. More than half are over 50, estimates the country’s statistics authority.”

  • Korhomme

    There are plenty of stories about problems with treatment (health tourism) abroad—I know anecdotes, not data—about people having treatment abroad whose problems thereafter have to be sorted on the NHS. Whose problem is this?

    TB has had a resurgence in immigrant communities in London, particularly the multi-drug resistant varieties. In what way is this a reason to deny treatment?

  • barnshee

    Any brit treated in spain has the bill passed to the NHS for refund
    its the absence of reciprocity that is the problem.

  • Dec

    That’s hardly accurate Barnshee. There is no equivalent of the NHS in Spain and it was the expats themselves, not the Spanish, who claimed the funds back from the UK treasury via the S1 form. Sorry if that rams a hole in the side of your ‘greedy, dishonest foreigners’ narrative.

  • barnshee


    No funds claimable (and UK and EC countries have a system of payment (mostly UK pays) I shoud know just “taken advantage” of the Spanish sysytem

  • Robin Keogh

    No wonder u are ‘Anon’

  • Chingford Man

    What a silly deranged left-wing rant.

    “And the NHS is ‘for all’” – which is Farage’s point. Why should British taxpayers be paying for the treatment of an open-ended number of people from all over the world with chronic illnesses? It’s the National Health Service, not the World Health Service.

    Farage knew what he was doing and his critics have played into his hands. Everyone is talking about what he said, and many of the people whose support UKIP needs to win their target seats will be agreeing with him.

  • Dec

    ‘Any brit treated in spain has the bill passed to the NHS for refund
    its the absence of reciprocity that is the problem.’

    The bill is passed by the ‘Brit’ – it’s commonly referred to claiming back whether it be by the EHIC or E106/S1 form. Again, I’m struggling to see where this falls into the ‘greedy/dishonest foreigners’ narrative. Or are you suggesting the Spanish should set up a temporary version of the NHS every time you pop over to Magaluf?

  • Korhomme

    The idea that National Insurance funds the NHS is an illusion. NI contributions go into the pool of general taxation, of which it and income tax are only a part. You cannot live in the UK without paying tax, particularly VAT. VAT is ‘hidden in clear sight’ and is a tax that disproportionally affects the poorer members of society who pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes than the rich.

  • Reader

    Korhomme: I know anecdotes, not data—about people having treatment abroad whose problems thereafter have to be sorted on the NHS.
    That’s still a net saving for the NHS compared with having both the Op and the Fix paid for by the NHS, isn’t it?
    Of course, you might wish to suggest that the initial NHS success rate is so amazingly high, and the success rate abroad so poor, that it really would be cheaper for the NHS to do everything. But I know a few anecdotes too…

  • Reader

    Dec: Again, I’m struggling to see where this falls into the ‘greedy/dishonest foreigners’ narrative.
    I’m guessing barnshee was challenging Brian O’Neill’s Poor-Spain-paying-for-Brit-expats misconception rather than starting a new argument. After all – both EHIC and E106/S1 are arguments against Brian’s position, whether you noticed or not.

  • Korhomme

    I’m not sure if there are any accurate figures, but the belief is that those from the UK who go for treatment abroad are seeking cosmetic procedures, whether surgical or dental. Such procedures aren’t usually paid for under the NHS, though there are exceptions. So if there are problems, the NHS usually ends up funding the fix. The same also happens if people in the UK get private treatment in the UK; if there are problems, they may be unable to fund it privately.

  • the keep

    Since you are from the Republic why would this interest you unless you have sneaked across the border to use the NHS 😉

  • Korhomme

    Studying what is liable to VAT and what isn’t produces some quite surprising results. You might think that VAT is imposed on ‘luxury’ items; toothpaste, women’s sanitary products and toilet paper are all such ‘luxuries’. And is it a ‘Jaffa cake’ or a ‘Jaffa biscuit’?

    Petrol is subject to excise duty; VAT is charged on the combined wholesale price and the VAT.–and-dont–pay-vat-on-217890/

  • Reader

    Well, there was Gerry Adam’s prostate Op in the USA; and in my experience, the people talking about operations overseas are trying to avoid the costs of local private treatment and the delays and infection risk of NHS treatment (e.g. knee operation – October 2015, maybe).
    Though I expect those traveling for cosmetic procedures would be less voluble on the issue.

  • Framer

    The Government pays Spain £250m every year for our pensioners’ healthcare in that country and get £3m back for theirs here.
    Because our hospitals and GPs don’t register and record foreign nationals due to political correctness.

  • barnshee

    I am not promoting a ‘greedy/dishonest foreigners’ narrative.

    The NHS treats free at the point of delivery– no questions asked This does not apply elsewhere -There is no real attempt to balance this inequality.and recover funds for treating foreign nationals. –not ‘greedy/dishonest foreigners’ but people who benefit from a system they have not helped fund.

  • Dec

    Not really. Eligibility for the S1 is directly linked to the applicant’s UK National Insurance contributions so to imply that the UK government is subsidising the Spanish Health service (when a claim has been made by a British national) is nonsense.

  • submariner

    As ive said before UKIP are the BNP in tweed jackets. Anyone who thinks otherwise has their head up their hole.

  • Zig70

    The English in Spain avail themselves of free health service and hardly integrate. Glass houses. Considering the history of emigration from here, I find it surprising that anyone has the brass neck to complain about folks coming here. Seems ukip think emigration is only for wealthy, educated folk? If you are desperate and poor then get stuffed?

  • Reader

    All that has been said is the the UK Government pays for the treatment of UK nationals in Spain. You already know that in practice the UK Government pays for the treatment of European nationals and all immigrants while in the UK. Brian’s concern that British immigrants in Spain are “generally older and less healthy” is misplaced – those are exactly the people almost certain to have all of their treatment paid for by the UK.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    “Cost-effective, comprehensive and competent” – what planet are you on? This is the NHS we are talking about. A bottomless money pit, that has spiralled out of control and is in dire need to total reform. Remember Stafford hospital, which interestingly occurred on Labour’s last watch. The days of “free at the point of use” are gone. Take a walk into Craigavon’s A&E on a Saturday night and ask the waiting room to raise its hands if it’s Polish. You’d get a better standard of treatment in your local vets.

  • barnshee

    I am back from spain Treatment received was not free nor were the prescriptions

  • kalista63

    If I’d £26 grand, I would happily reach in to my pocket and pay for someone’s treatment for HIV. It’s called basic human empathy.

    Can you imagine Cubans bollocking on because their government spent much needed money on fighting the Ebola crisis in Africa?

  • Robin Keogh

    I am irish and most things that occur in Ireland interest me

  • Boss Hogg

    “Firstly, his figures aren’t quite accurate.”

    You are quite right, it’s much worse than Nigel Farage said.

    107,800 people in the UK have HIV/AIDS, of which 59,300 are from Africa.

    The NHS cost for drugs alone is £1.186 BILLION a year – some estimates put the annual cost of drugs at £1.482 BILLION a year.

    And remember – that’s just for the drugs – it doesn’t include the cost of the NHS itself.

  • the keep

    In Northern Ireland I assume you mean?

  • Chingford Man

    Since you obviously have your own head in the same position, you really aren’t one to comment. I can assure you that I didn’t see a single tweed jacket or hear any BNP opinions when I and hundreds of others campaigned in the 2 by-elections UKIP won last year. Sorry to disappoint you.

  • g1lgam3sh

    Pay for it yourself then Andrex.

  • Chingford Man

    Fair enough if that’s your private choice. But UK taxpayers who pay for the NHS were never asked if they wanted the NHS to be free for the rest of the world. So it’s not a valid comparison.

  • Chingford Man

    Even if it’s in a foreign state from you.

  • Robin Keogh

    No, Ireland. All parts of it

  • Zig70

    I think the criteria is if you registered as a resident in Spain before 24 April 2012 and have an annual income less than €100k and are not covered by any other health care. I think this covers most of the migrant english who add to the cost of the spanish health care with the need for translators.

  • Korhomme

    “a silly deranged left-wing rant”

    I shall take that as one of the nicest compliments anyone has ever said to me 🙂

  • Korhomme

    And that nice Mr Farage will ensure, by cutting the foreign aid budget, that they won’t get any treatment at home.

  • Boss Hogg

    Why do you think it is the responsibility of the British to pay for the world’s health problems?

    Not only are we borrowing the money to then give it away – we are refusing life-saving cancer drugs to British children because the NHS can’t afford it.

    It’s madness and explains why UKIP’s policy to cut foreign aid is popular with the British public.

  • Thomas Barber

    ” But UK taxpayers who pay for the NHS were never asked if they wanted the NHS to be free for the rest of the world”

    I bet those African, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and whatever ever else nation that Britain invaded and sucked the life out of their natural resources would disagree with your idea that they are the beggars. You reap what you sow and the British are now paying for their colonial conquests and UK taxpayers were never asked if they agreed with all that invading, murdering and stealing from other countries and its not as if Corporate UK has ended its policy of living like a parasite on militarily weaker but resource rich countries the middle east is a reminder today as to why you have an immigration problem in the first place.

  • Chingford Man

    I’ve seen some stupid answers on Slugger previously, but this goes the extra mile. Happened long ago, pal, so get over it. We’ve paid any moral debts by vast amounts of foreign aid in any event. Get that chip off your shoulder.

  • Thomas Barber

    Play the ball my friend not the man it shows your ignorance of whats happening right now in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Mali, Yemen, Libya and soon to be Iran, the colors red white and blue are just a trademark for countries willing to use their own people as cannon fodder for bankers wars. I dont have a chip on my shoulder you should tackle the mote in your own eye before lecturing others. Face the truth, Corporate UK has an immigration problem because Corporate UK planted the seeds of its own destruction, its called payback time – The more the merrier hopefully they will suck the financial life out of the British nation and in the process destroy the union.

  • Chingford Man

    Oh, I’m not playing any man. However, I am pointing out the weakness of your argument: namely that the UK has some kind of obligation to treat indefinitely the health of the rest of the world. What part of “we can’t afford it” is unclear?

    I’m afraid anyone who actually looks forward to the UK economy being wrecked just so he can get his precious united Ireland is as chippy as hell. You don’t think that the economy of a united Ireland might have problems if the British economy goes kaput, do you?

    Sorry if you don’t like criticism but there it is. Since most of the unionists/right-wingers have left Slugger in recent years, maybe you’re just not used to anyone pointing out bigoted comments to you.

  • the keep

    Go on say Northern Ireland…

  • barnshee

    Those murdering Irish who played such a large part in amongst others the genocide of the Native Americans should stump up as well.
    (The Irish in England more than in Ireland? should also be compusorily repatriated)

  • Thomas Barber

    Who brought those Irish slaves to America and carrying out genocide is something that can be directed at the British many many many times over and their not finished yet, still murdering, still invading, still stealing other countries resources, still using the British working class canon fodder as useful monkeys who are too stupid to understand they are being exploited by armchair generals to ensure good British values like robbing and murdering the poor to feed the rich lives on.

  • Pete

    Two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m sure the Spanish are annoyed if English migrants are necessitating translators.

  • Reader

    Cubans don’t really have the option of dissent:

  • Chingford Man

    YouGov poll vindicates Farage on highlighting health tourism:

    Agree: 50pc
    Disagree: 34pc
    Don’t know: 16pc

  • carl marks

    Please tell us how some deseases have “reappeared” because of “open door immigration’
    ” and the NHS treating the world.
    Or was that rant xenophobic crap !o

  • terence patrick hewett

    The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

    What does it do?

    If you are an EU/EEA national and are travelling or staying temporarily in another state of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you are entitled to receive medical care if you become ill or have an accident.

    How much does it cost?

    The card is free of charge

    Where can it be used?

    Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (including the Canary and Balearic Islands), Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

    Treatment in the UK

    An Irish national does not need an EHIC in the UK, just proof of residence of the Republic of Ireland (passport or driving licence).

    Necessary treatment from the National Health Service (NHS) is free of charge.

    For GP treatment, contact any NHS GP practice. Contact details for GP practices in your area can be found at under your Local Health Services.

    Access to or referral to specialist services is through an NHS GP. Specialist treatment is then provided free of charge. You can also get access to specialists via Hospital Accident & Emergency Departments.

    Permanent residents of the UK apply for a National Insurance Number (the UK equivalent of the Irish RSI or PPS number) which gives access to treatment on the NHS.

    Details of UK access

    For full information see website below

  • terence patrick hewett

    UK and Irish Rep. bill each other for treatment of nationals. The HSE will bill the NHS for temporary medical treatment and vice versa.

  • Brian O’Neill

    It is not my position. I am just referencing an economist article that gives a different slant to the debate.

  • barnshee

    I`m referring particular about the 7th Cavalry

    and the settlement of the “west”– when did the Irish “slaves” settle the west

    (i would be careful about “slave” allegations
    Seems the Irish taught the English how to do it
    St Patrick?/)

  • barnshee

    The EIHC gets you what a resident of eg Spain would get– that is -you pay some of the cost and for prescriptions

  • submariner
  • Chingford Man

    There are idiots who misuse social media across all parties. If we went through the Shinners’ social media accounts, I wonder what we would find.

  • Tochais Siorai

    I’d say you’ll find they didn’t play as large a part as your Scotch-Irish / Ulster Scots brethren.

  • Thomas Barber

    Are you going to tell us anything new and if you know nothing about the empire being built on the back of slavery especially the plantation of America and Ireland during the 1600s then your version of historical facts is, well a little Anglised.

  • barnshee

    Issue avoided (as usual)

  • Kevin Breslin

    Doesn’t matter when UKIP close down the supply lines to retrovirals development such as German and Polish made lab equipment going to the UK because they won’t pay tariffs as they are so wrapped up in the dogma Britain has never got anything nor traded anything from Europe ever, then the cost of retrovirals being made in the UK will be too expensive even for the rich. Britian will join the retrovirals immigrants.

  • npbinni

    Plenty of Brits go to Hungary or India for dental or cosmetic procedures; the cost in these countries is much less than here…

    Indeed, the treatment has to be paid for. You don’t just waltz into a clinic in most countries in the world and expect everything for nothing.

  • Mister_Joe

    Yep. Feck them all. It isn’t that we ruined their country’s economies during the colonial days, or did we?