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Is Trump’s diagnosis too much, asks Nigel Hastilow

By Nigel Hastilow | In-depth | Published:

It can’t be long before they make it illegal for foreigners and Tories to criticise our wonderful National Health Service (God bless her and all who sail in her).

It certainly can’t be much more than a week or so away before Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is banned in the United Kingdom and mention of the American President’s name carries the penalty of a £100 fine and seven days of emptying bedpans in your local hospital.

It’s alright to criticise our fine and glorious institution – the envy of the world, as we all know – but only if you are a guaranteed, fully paid-up, 100 per cent bona fide supporter of the health service and all its works.

So, for instance, Jeremy Corbyn is allowed to declare the NHS is in crisis. He is allowed to say the wards are overflowing with untreated patients and waiting times in A&E are longer than they have ever been in the history of the universe ever.

This is permitted, indeed encouraged, because Mr Corbyn is leader of the party which set up the NHS and is therefore universally acknowledged to be the moral conscience of the nation.

Mr Corbyn can criticise because his heart’s in the right place and every failing of the NHS is due entirely and only to Tory cuts and their wicked desire to privatise the service.

Mr Corbyn’s chums and allies are also allowed to criticise the NHS because they are supporters of the service and all its works so they occupy the moral high ground.

They believe the health service needs more money. Full stop. If unlimited sums of cash were poured into hospitals, all would be well.

Everything else is a wicked Tory plot to smear, undermine, sell to the highest bidder and otherwise destroy this wonderful, wonderful, life-saving organisation where everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

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Suggest otherwise, as Donald Trump did, and you are – at the very least – and enemy of the people. So when the US President says the NHS is ‘going broke and not working’ he is universally vilified. It’s not just Jeremy Corbyn’s mad Momentum muppets who express outrage and disgust at the President’s comments. Mr Trump is subject to condemnation from every right-thinking beneficiary of the gentle ministrations of the NHS.

Healthy Secretary Jeremy Hunt, for instance, has to weigh in on behalf of his domain because to do otherwise would lead to the immediate and irretrievable collapse of his political career.

He says he is proud to live in the country which invented universal healthcare rather than in the US where 28 million people do not have health insurance. He has got a point, of course. It’s almost impossible to find anyone in Britain who thinks we should swap the NHS for any other system.

The idea of private insurance is seen in Britain as an unnecessary luxury for the self-indulgent over-paid. We do not take the American view that it is a necessary form of basic self-reliance and that people who depend on the Government for their treatment are namby-pamby liberals who want the State to wrap them in cotton wool.

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That is not the American way, so most Republicans and even some Democrats think Mr Trump is right to draw attention to the flaws, failings and foibles of the British system.

The last thing they want is a Government cradle-to-grave health and welfare system.

Yet this rugged independence doesn’t stop Americans enjoying a 65 per cent cancer survival rate compared with 59 per cent in this country.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the American system is better than ours but, if staying alive is the great object of receiving health care, it certainly suggests we could do better. And that may be about money. Americans spend twice as much on health as we do, but they spend it in the private sector and the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to live long and prosper.

Our egalitarianism finds it offensive that one patient might receive better treatment, and be more likely to survive, just because they have more money than another. Aren’t all human lives equally valuable and shouldn’t we all be expected to take our chances in the State system rather than steal an advantage over our fellow citizens just by paying more money?

To achieve this state of bliss means we all have to be treated like billionaires even when we haven’t got a bean. Which is why the NHS will never have enough money and why politicians can make a career out of pledging to spend money they know they haven’t got.

It is also why, when The Donald points out the king is wearing no clothes, politicians daren’t address the question and prefer to attack the President because he’s everybody’s Global Enemy Number One and anything he says is bound to be wrong.

Nigel Hastilow

By Nigel Hastilow

Express & Star columnist

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