- Alex Wong/Getty Images
- Trump attacked the NHS in a dispute over healthcare with US Democrats.
- He appears to have written the message after a segment on Fox News.
- The remark is likely to anger people in the UK, where passionate support of the NHS is widespread.
- Britain’s Health Secretary and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn both pushed back against Trump.
- A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May later echoed the sentiment and said she is “proud” of the way Britain delivers healthcare.
US President Donald Trump has attacked Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), which he described as “going broke and not working” in a pugnacious early-morning tweet.
Trump used difficulties in the health service, which is in the grip of a periodic winter crisis, to make a point in a long-running battle with the US Democratic Party, which supports healthcare reform which began under President Obama.
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
It is not clear what information Trump was basing his assessment of the NHS on. However, he thanked the hosts of Fox News’s morning “Fox and Friends” show immediately after the first tweet.
The show had run a segment on the NHS that morning, featuring an interview with UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who campaigned for Trump during the 2016 election campaign.
Donald Trump is tweeting about the NHS. Fox News one hour ago: pic.twitter.com/sjLZU9EXSr
— Ned Simons (@nedsimons) February 5, 2018
Protest marches about NHS funding are indeed common in the UK, but their demands are almost exclusively that the government increase funding for universal healthcare rather than adopt a different system.
His intervention appears to have further strained relations with politicians in the UK.
Support for the NHS is an article of faith among all political parties, and politicians compete to be seen to be supporting the universal health system the most passionately.
Politicians across the spectrum backed the NHS in its current form in response to Trump’s tweet. Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman told journalists she is “proud” of the universal principle underpinning the NHS, and has prioritised government funding accordingly.
The UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is often accused of ruining the NHS by his critics, also praised universal healthcare, and criticised the US system for leaving millions of people without any coverage.
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, the leader of the Labour party, who campaigns heavily on defending and funding the NHS, also directly criticised Trump and described his position as “wrong.”
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
The most recent international comparison between the UK and US health systems found that the NHS overall performs significantly better than US healthcare systems.
A study by the independent Commonwealth Fund judged the UK the best overall performer of 11 leading nations, with the US healthcare system in 11th place.