BMA racism claim over charging foreign patients branded ‘bonkers’ in Lords

Claims by doctors that charging foreign patients for NHS care is “fundamentally racist” have been branded “bonkers” by House Of Cards author Lord Dobbs.

The accusation was “financially disgraceful and deeply damaging”, the Tory peer and former deputy party chairman argued at Westminster.

Health Minister Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford also rejected the allegation of racism and said billing overseas visitors who used the NHS was “a perfectly sensible and appropriate thing to do”.

Lord Dobbs’s criticism comes after medics backed a demand to stop charging foreign visitors for treatment, arguing it made health service staff “complicit in racism”.

Up to 500 delegates at the recent British Medical Association’s annual conference in Belfast voted overwhelmingly in favour of abandoning the fees.

It is estimated so-called health tourism costs the NHS between £200 million and £2 billion a year.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Dobbs (pictured) said: “The rights that we all enjoy with the National Health Service also come with commensurate responsibilities.

“Responsibilities of patients not to abuse staff and to turn up to their appointments.

“But also the responsibilities of the staff themselves to make sure that the National Health Service is being used honestly and responsibly.

“So would she agree that the BMA’s recent announcement that charging health tourists is ‘fundamentally racist’ is not only bonkers, but it’s financially disgraceful and deeply damaging to the people and the patients that the National Health Service was set up to protect.”

Lady Blackwood said: “I agree that charging those who come into the National Health Service from other countries is a perfectly sensible and appropriate thing to do and by no means racist.”

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