Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Scaremongering about immigrants and the NHS

On Saturday, immigrants were being blamed for problems in schools:

On Sunday, immigrants were being blamed for problems in the job market:

On Monday, immigrants were (again) being blamed for problems in the job market:

And on Tuesday, immigrants were being blamed for problems in the NHS:

Predictably, the BNP wasted no time in regurgitating each story for their own website.

The racist party's article on the Mail's school story was followed by this ugly comment:

How proud the Mail must be to help foster such hatred.

But back to the Express' front page about Poles getting abortions on the NHS. This story was actually in Monday's Sun, so it's no surprise to see it appear in the Express the following day.

The Sun said:

Ten thousand Polish women came to Britain for NHS abortions last year.

The phrasing is deliberate. 'Came' to Britain for an abortion. As if that was the sole purpose of their visit. And there's little evidence to suggest that is true.

Nonetheless, the Express suggested the same:

A Polish source said yesterday that thousands of Polish women already flee the strict Roman Catholic country’s anti-abortion laws every year to undergo the procedure on the NHS.

There's not a hint of any sympathy in any of this coverage for Polish women based on the fact that:

Poland practises one of the most restrictive abortion regimes in Europe, banning and criminalising it except on medical grounds, risk to life, and where pregnancy results from sexual violence.

The Department of Health said in a statement:

The NHS is provided primarily for the benefit of people lawfully resident in the UK.

There is no provision in the UK Immigration Rules for people to come to this country for the purpose of obtaining NHS treatment and with certain exceptions non-residents are expected to pay for any medical treatment they receive while they are here.

We do, however, choose to exempt from charge the residents of some countries for some treatment needs when they visit the UK, under reciprocal healthcare agreements, meaning that UK citizens receive similar benefits when they visit those countries.

But in any case, are 'thousands' of Polish women coming to the UK to have abortions?

Well, no.

The latest Department of Health figures for abortions carried out in England and Wales cover 2008.

They show that the number of women who are residents of Poland and who had an abortion in England and Wales was just 30.

Compare that with the 4,600 women from Ireland.

And yet, would the Express put 'Now Irish get free abortions on NHS' on it's front page?

Indeed, of all the abortions for women classifed as non-resident in England and Wales, 90.6% came from Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.

The 30 Poles equate to 0.4%. There are more from Italy (150) and France (60), while Spain accounted for 29.

So why pick on the Poles?

Clearly given the increase in the Polish population of Britain since EU enlargement there are likely to be more Polish women who are living and working here but they are as entitled to NHS treatment as anyone else.

But the tabloids are not framing the story in that way - it's all about scaremongering about health tourism and immigrants getting things the papers think they shouldn't.

(More by Unity at Liberal Conspiracy)


  1. "If immigrants account for one quarter of all live births"

    Did I read that right? Do 25% of women giving birth really do it with their cervix on a national border?

  2. Id' have thought the Christian Right, such as the BNP, would be grateful for the influx of filthy foreign devils. After all it saves our righteous missionaries from having to risk their lives in sweaty foreign climes; now they can be converted from their heathen ways and educated in the ways of god queen and country right here. Isn't the modern world fantastic.

    Funny how people hear what they want to hear in the media. When it's immigrant scare stories these idiots can't wait to believe every last ounce of bullshit. But when it's an expose on the racist activities of people such as the BNP then it's scandal and lies.

  3. I just love the way the NHS person is totally clear that Polish people aren't entitled to free abortions on the NHS, but that Express headline is "Now Poles get free abortions on the NHS".

    I don't know how their "journalists" sleep at night, I really don't. All they ever do is lie - not spin, not exagerate, not twist the facts, they actually lie. All day every day. Shocking.

  4. You're doing a really good job

  5. Er... The Sun article is actually from 15 December 2008, not 'Monday', and is explicitly based on a separate Polish source, not Department of Health official statistics.

    The general point you're making may be right, but the evidence you're using to make it doesn't stack up. Not unlike the whole Polish abortions story itself, come to think of it...

  6. It was in Monday's Sun too - I have a copy in front of me. I'm guessing Mr Tabloid Watch simply linked to the wrong Sun scare story about Poles coming to Britain for free abortions.

  7. Fleet Street Blues - Primly Stable is right, the story was in Monday's Sun. But that article doesn't appear to be on the Sun's website.

    I'm not sure how the evidence I am using doesn't 'stack up'. Surely the Department of Health knows better about numbers of NHS abortions than anyone else?

    The DoH say there were a total of 6,862 abortions performed on non-residents of England and Wales in 2008. Thus, claiming 10,000 Polish women have 'come here' for an abortion in a year is what doesn't 'stack up'.

    But if you have the 'Polish source' which provides the figure please do send me/post a link.

  8. Great stuff! The rise of the BNP is so clearly fostered by these hate-rags but it's only through alternative outlets like this that the link is 'expressed'. sorry about the bad pun! :)


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