Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt sits red-faced as the failings of his NHS are discussed in Prime Minister’s Questions on February 8.

The cost of health tourism has never been accurately calculated. Government figures estimated the costs of treating deliberate health tourism in the UK at between £100m and £300m a year back in 2013. Yet somehow the Daily Mail maths geniuses turned this into £2 billion a year.

However much we argue about the accuracy of these costs the most striking thing is actually the hypocrisy in the debate about health tourism.

Brits abroad die or are seriously injured in tragic accidents of their own making but because it happens in the EU there is no need to tell tabloid readers of how much our citizens are costing other countries’ health care systems.

It is time for our government and sections of our media to heed the mantra of “do as you would be done by”. Health tourism has always made for useful cheap headlines to deflect from the real story. But given it is represents just 0.3 per cent of the annual NHS bill, Jeremy Hunt needs to stop playing that card if he wants to maintain a shred of credibility.

For when a patient’s cancer operation is cancelled for the third time or they have just driven 200 miles to see their child in a mental hospital they will be blaming Jeremy Hunt, not a bereaved Nigerian mother, next time they come to vote.

Source: Jeremy Hunt – the public is blaming you, not health tourism, for the NHS crisis

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