Socialist Worker

Tories and privateers caused the chaos in the NHS, not migrants

by Eleanor Claxton-Mayer
Issue No. 2537

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt (Pic: NHS Confederation/flickr)

Nobody can seriously deny the crisis in the NHS. But some want to deflect the blame from the Tories and scapegoat migrants for the problems.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the butcher of the NHS, has long denounced “abuse” by “health tourists”.

And the Tories have given their blessing to schemes that make patients show passports.

Sections of the media are cynically ramping up the same message.

This is having an effect. One poll last weekend showed that more people blamed immigration for the problems in the NHS than government funding cuts.

Yet a 2013 government report on migrants’ use of the NHS showed there was no direct evidence of “health tourism”.

The Daily Mail newspaper this week claimed that health tourism “is thought to cost up to £280 million a year”. 

Even if that were true it would be nothing compared to the £22 billion NHS cuts proposed through the government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs).

Nor would it compare to the tens of billions of cuts that preceded the STPs.


The Tories’ catastrophic cuts to social care budgets lie behind the health service crisis.

In addition NHS privatisation has almost doubled under the Tories. A staggering £48 billion of our NHS has been handed to private health firms that cream off an average 10 percent profit a year from their contracts.

These are the real parasites, not migrants.

Much of the blather about “health tourism” is code for “black people receiving treatment”. The Mail’s “revelations” this week included the story of a Nigerian woman who gave birth to quads.

She went into premature labour on a flight to London and one of the babies died.

What should have happened? Should she have been refused treatment until she had shown she could pay for it?

Should another baby have been left to die?

The government wants people to blame NHS workers, or older people or migrants in order to deflect from its own crimes.

We should not let them fool us. Blame Theresa May, Hunt and privateer Richard Branson, not migrants.


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