President Trump sent out a tweet this morning blasting Democrats for wanting to push socialized health care here in the U.S. while Britain’s National Health Service is “going broke and not working.”
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
Britain’s Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt fired back a short time later:
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
Jeremy Corbyn also weighed in:
Wrong. People were marching because we love our NHS and hate what the Tories are doing to it. Healthcare is a human right. https://t.co/Pmo2xYSqZh
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) February 5, 2018
CNN reports that Trump’s tweet followed a report on Fox News about problems with the UK system. I haven’t seen that report so I’m not sure what claims it made, but there is no doubt that the UK system is in crisis. This BBC Newsnight report from last October features one woman describing the experience in a UK hospital as being like something one would expect in the 3rd world. A nurse supervisor in this clip says the situation can’t continue because “it’s unsafe.”
And that report was before the system was pushed into an even greater crisis this winter by a serious worldwide flu epidemic. The Washington Post reports things at the NHS really do seem dismal:
Britain has also had, once again, a terrible winter flu season, and hospitals nationwide are struggling to cope with the spikes in demand.
“There is widespread concern that austerity we’ve seen in the last seven years has basically put the NHS on its knees. In an attempt to drive efficiency in the system, to deliver the same for less money, we are now seeing poorer quality of care,” said Harry Quilter-Pinner, a research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, a London-based think tank.
“Waiting times for elective treatments, for cancer, for example, have gone up. Waiting times for GPs have gone up. Hospitals are missing targets for how long you wait at A&E [accident and emergency],” he said.
Given the crisis, there is naturally a debate about what to do about it. Jeremy Corbyn and his labor party blame the problem on a lack of resources. Last month the Labor Party put out this clip which first admits the system is failing and then encourages people to vote Labour to solve it.
And based on this RT clip below, it does appear that many of the people marching this weekend support Labour and a socialist solution to the problem. So Corbyn appears to be right about that, though that’s not really at odds with what President Trump said. He said Democrats here want to pour more money into our system and make it more like the one currently failing in the UK. I think the facts will back him up on those particulars even if that’s not the outcome Democrats envision from universal health care. Recall that even California’s one-party government balked at single-payer plan after looking at the cost of running it.
But doubling down on the NHS in the form of higher taxes and more money may not solve the problem in the long run. This ITV news clip asks why Germany, which has also had a seasonal flu crisis this year, hasn’t struggled as much as Britain’s NHS to cope with it. Part of the answer may be funding but Germany doesn’t spend dramatically more than the UK on their system. Another possibility suggested here: Germany allows various types of hospitals (including private ones) which creates additional competition, additional space and holds down prices.