We are very lucky to have the NHS. I know some people roll their eyes at the mention of our health service, and it’s easy to understand why, but perhaps this is partly prompted by taking it for granted. Free healthcare is a wonderful thing, and we should strive to keep it, but we must admit the enormous flaws in the NHS, and that is what we do at For Britain.

Let’s start with why free healthcare is justified; because it’s a good idea. We will all need healthcare at some point. So, instead of expensive insurance policies which often don’t pay out when needed, why not have a national pot in to which we all pay, and which then provides what we need when we need it?

To my own mind, it’s partly a reward for working and contributing to the country throughout our lives. Most of us will need healthcare when we get to a certain age, so wouldn’t it be better for all of us if, when we reach that age, healthcare costs are taken care of? Take our elderly population today for example. They have built this country, should their reward be to spend their twilight years worrying about the costs of medication? My answer is no.

Let’s now get the open borders aspect out of the way. Can a country have free healthcare and open borders? Not likely. The problem is that the funding would come from the British taxpayer only, but the service be used from all over the world. That’s neither fair, nor sustainable, and it is particularly grating when those who fund the NHS are denied service while those who don’t are pushed to the front of the queue.

That’s why For Britain proposes two things: compulsory health insurance for visitors to Britain, and no NHS services to anyone except British citizens or those who have lived and worked here, legally, for a minimum of five years (this would not include emergencies).

These proposals also mean and end to ‘health tourism’. People should not be able to come to the UK to use the health service and then head home again.

Now to the finances – perhaps the most contentious aspect of all.

The NHS is swimming in money. It takes 100s of billions of pounds from the public purse each year. That figure rises on an annual basis not by millions, but by billions.

Politically, the only policy ever put forward by the big two parties – Labour and the Conservatives – is to meet every problem and concern with more and more money. At no point do these parties seriously question how that money is spent. But let’s not forget something – that money does not belong to the government, it belongs to the taxpayer, and it is therefore the moral and political duty of the government to spend this money wisely. It doesn’t.

Money wasted in the health service is astronomical. Not only do we have an enormously bloated bureaucracy to contend with, but procurement is nothing short of a bad joke. Hospitals have been reported to be spending several times more than market value on basic products like gloves or bed sheets. Plus there is wild variation between hospitals on products they use, or even within hospitals. In a BBC report, one hospital was reported to have been purchasing 177 different types of surgical glove! [1]

It is perhaps no wonder then that the health service overspends. This has been happening for some years, and back in 2016, it overspent by a staggering £2.45 billion. [2]

The coronavirus pandemic meant billions more poured in to the health service, which is understandable, but there remains no real examination of where NHS public funds are going.

This is why For Britain proposes a full audit of the NHS. We must know what is being spent and where, and only then can we truly tackle its mountain of problems. We also must make sure that MPs cannot and do not profit from NHS contracts.[3]

Overall, free healthcare is an enormous positive in society and it says something wonderful about us. It says that we are wise enough to pool our resources in to a pot that we’ll all need later, and it says that we are willing to do so to protect our elderly, disabled, sick and vulnerable. That is the kind of society we ought to protect.

But reality is reality and money doesn’t grow on trees. If we are to keep free healthcare, it will come with the burden of financial efficiency. That’s what For Britain brings to the table, and as with so many of our policies, this approach is completely unique.