I am grateful to Messrs Harper and Heath for responding to my invitation to the UKIP PPC Mr Arthur to explain his party’s policies on health. I had addressed the candidate, not his acolytes. It is more usual for a candidate to defend his party’s policies, but maybe Mr Arthur and UKIP have a different approach or he cannot cope without his henchmen doing his bidding. So I and Horsham constituency await a reply from Mr Arthur.
Both Messrs Harper and Heath refer to a new UKIP Manifesto, but as the previous manifesto was described by their leader as ‘drivel’, why should the latest version be any different given the regular public reversals of UKIP policies?
Dr Heath refers to the cost of migrant use of the NHS and health tourism, in both cases overstating the issue and bemoans the number of foreign nationals working in the NHS, including a third of doctors. He ignores the fact that migrants tend to be younger and of working age and studies confirm make a significant net contribution to the UK economy.
A major issue for the NHS is that we are all thankfully living longer and surviving through more acute and chronic diseases. To meet the staffing needs and cost of that we need qualified people and tax revenue; both of which UKIP policies would cut. He conveniently ignores the fact that over half a million UK citizens live in France and Spain (Source: EUROSTAT) and make use of their health services.
A study published by the BBC confirms 35 per cent of NHS staff are from outside the UK and that ‘the NHS would be ‘in dire straits’ without migrant workers’, according to Stephen Nickell one of the UK’s senior economists, who is on the board of the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Having been treated for an acute condition over the last four years, half of my six operations have been carried out by surgeons from overseas, whilst many of the medical staff treating me were overseas nationals, without their skill and care I would not have survived.
He calls for UK withdrawal from Europe, the world’s largest single market and the source of 50 per cent of UK trade which secures millions of jobs, revenue and tax income. He fails to say why the majority of business leaders and their organisations support UK membership of the EU and want to influence its future direction from within.
Dr Heath cites Norway and Switzerland as non EU members who trade with the EU. But conveniently forgets that in order to do so they have to sign up to EU trade agreements, pay levies but have no voice in the EU Parliament. Both are also signatories to the Schengen agreement allowing free movement of labour within Europe, a concept which would be an anathema to UKIP!