Health tourism hysteria is out of control
The Sun’s obsession with health tourism reaches new heights today, as the paper attacks a Nigerian woman who recently gave birth to quadruplets, having gone into labour on a flight to the UK.
‘500K HEALTH TOURIST’ the front page screams, claiming that the woman ‘jetted in for NHS care’, and British taxpayers were footing the bill.
The small print? Two of the woman’s babies have died — one immediately and one days later — and the surviving two remain in intensive care.
WEDNESDAY’S FRONT PAGE: Hey! Let’s all hate this Nigerian for costing “us” £500k. Oh and two of her babies died but that’s not important. pic.twitter.com/rtvLzporns
— The Sun Apologies (@SunApology) January 31, 2017
While the writers — Jen Pharo and Nick McDermott — mince their words, as does quoted MP Peter Bone, the implication is clear: the Sun believes that saving newborns’ lives is an unacceptable burden on the British taxpayer.
What’s more, read past the front page and it becomes clear that Priscilla, the woman in question, was not an NHS ‘health tourist’ at all. She was planning to give birth in the US, but was turned away at the border and went into Labour on a connecting flight to Heathrow.
Priscilla appears on tonight’s episode of the BBC2 documentary ‘Hospital’. The producers filmed her conversation with an NHS ‘overseas visitor manager’ — which is what they call people whose job is to harass sick and bereaved foreigners in British hospitals.
Although the Tories are obsessed with health tourism — Theresa May wants all NHS users to have to show their passports — it’s a minor problem in the context of the vast funding crisis facing the NHS.
The government’s disproportionate response is less about healthcare, more about its anti-immigration vendetta.
Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.