In his latest misguided, ill-informed Twitter rant (jeez… I’m getting *really* tired of writing that), Donald Trump has launched an attack on the “broke” NHS – and totally misrepresented a protest to save the health service at the weekend.
The president tweeted this morning: “The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working. Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!”
The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working. Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018
Trump appears to be referring to a protest in London at the weekend that saw thousands of people take to the streets to demand that our universal healthcare system be protected from privatisation at the hands of the Tories and for proper funding.
Instead, the president is wilfully lying in his suggestion that the NHS is itself “going broke” and that Brits think it isn’t working.
The reaction to Trump’s comments was swift and filled with righteous fury.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted succinctly: “Wrong. People were marching because we love our NHS and hate what the Tories are doing to it. Healthcare is a human right.”
Trump even achieved the rare feat of uniting the right and the left after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt took issue with the president’s remarks.
Hunt said (somewhat ironically since he’s overseen a terrible mismanagement of the health service): “I may disagree with claims made on that march but not ONE of them wants to live in a system where 28m people have no cover. NHS may have challenges but I’m proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage - where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance.”
I may disagree with claims made on that march but not ONE of them wants to live in a system where 28m people have no cover. NHS may have challenges but I’m proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage - where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance https://t.co/YJsKBAHsw7— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) February 5, 2018
And incredibly, Trump even drew the scorn of his long-time lap dog, sorry, friend Piers Morgan, who said: “Wrong, Mr President. Our NHS is a wonderful, albeit imperfect, health system - and the envy of the world. By comparison, the US healthcare system is a sick joke & the envy of no-one.”
Trouble in paradise, Piers? But what are we going to do with all these commemorative trophies we’ve bought?
Other experts and commentators have weighed in with their reaction to the president’s bloviating comments:
Hey, Mr. President. The only people who love the current system are you, the drug companies and insurance companies. 30 million Americans have no health insurance and we pay the highest prices in the world. We must guarantee health care to all, not take it away. https://t.co/QmmJpB50QT— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 5, 2018
Hi @realDonaldTrump organisers of UK NHS demo here 👋— HCT (@nhscampaigns) February 5, 2018
Actually 10s of 1000s marched because our Govt is quietly imposing a system like yours:expensive, inefficient & which benefits insurance companies over public interests
Ure divisive, ignorant rhetoric won't work here
No thanks https://t.co/I885gB4xUk
Excuse me - the NHS is one of the single best things that has ever been done in the UK. Could it do with more funding? Sure.— Jamie Spafford (@JamieSpafford) February 5, 2018
But every year the NHS helps 10’s of millions of people fight everything from broken fingers to life-saving cancer treatment… For free.
So, GET. LOST. https://t.co/SyJjI88ta3
Donald Trump says the NHS is broken, & thousands march about it in the streets. But they were marching because they want to keep it as it is. Fake news. Sad.— John Simpson (@JohnSimpsonNews) February 5, 2018
Dr Daniel Hills, who works as a clinical biochemist in the NHS, told ShortList: “I echo Jeremy Corbyn’s reply saying that people were marching because they love the NHS and hate what the Tories are doing to it. The NHS is a fantastic institution and the Tories are willingly and intentionally under-funding the system to watch it fail. Private healthcare in the US only works for people like Trump who can afford to be ill or take time off work. For everyone else, healthcare is beyond reach.”
What makes this latest intervention particularly eye-roll worthy is that Trump tweeted his thoughts just minutes after Nigel Farage appeared on the president’s beloved Fox News to speak about the NHS.
Trump’s obsession with Fox News (and Rupert Murdoch) was confirmed by his following tweet just a short while later. He said: “Thank you to @foxandfriends for exposing the truth. Perhaps that’s why your ratings are soooo much better than your untruthful competition!”
Saturday Night Live devoted an entire sketch to the president’s love of this sycophantic morning news show at the weekend, which you can watch here:
And, of course, despite mismanagement at the hands of the Tories, the figures prove that the NHS is still a far superior system to that in the United States. While the NHS is free to use, medical debt has long been the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US, with one in five American adults struggling to pay medical bills.
And while the US spends around 17% of GDP on healthcare, the UK spends only around 9%, according to the World Health Organisation, and yet the UK continues to have a higher life expectancy than the United States (roughly 82 years compared to just 79).
So, surprise, surprise, Donald Trump is lying - but while it might seem tedious, isn’t it still really important to call out these lies? Especially when it comes to something so important to all of us as the NHS. We think so.