Nigel Farage: It is ‘stomach churning’ that we spend £1b a year on the NHS for ‘health tourists’

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UKIP leader Nigel Farage has addressed heavy criticism about recent comments on providing HIV treatments through the NHS, saying it is “stomach churning” that £80 million is spent on treatment through “health tourism”.

Farage was speaking at today’s UKIP manifesto launch, and was asked a question regarding an interview with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who said she thought his comments on HIV treatment for “health tourists” were “stomach churning”.

During the Leaders’ Debate on Thursday, UKIP leader Nigel Farage claimed: “There are 7000 diagnoses in this country every year for people who are HIV positive, but 60 percent of them are not for British nationals.

“You can come into Britain, from anywhere in the world, and get diagnosed with HIV, and get the anti-retroviral drugs which cost up to £25,000 per year per patient.”

Ms Morgan suggested she would not rule out quitting, rather than serving in a coalition Government with UKIP, and cited Farage’s comments on HIV.

During today’s manifesto launch, Farage was asked whether he would seek to stop HIV positive people from entering the UK. While the question was heckled by an audience member who called it “disgusting”, the UKIP leader said he thought it was a “good question”.

Refusing to back down on his original claims, he said: “Do I stand by that? You bet your life I stand by that… I find it stomach-churning that we refuse people in their 80s drugs for breast treatment and prostate treatment when we’re prepared to spend up to £1bn a year on health tourists from all over the world. It is time we put the British people first and I’m confident the vast majority of British people agree with me.”

His comments on HIV have been strongly condemned by the leaders of other parties and by HIV charities – while fact checkers pointed out his stats included non-British nationals who have contracted HIV in this country, and ignores the concept of herd immunity.

However, Mr Farage stuck by his claim in an interview with Sky News.

He said: “What good Christian would say to an 85-year-old woman ‘you can’t have breast cancer treatment because we can’t afford it’, whilst at the same time shovelling a billion pounds on foreign aid, allowing people from all over the world to fly into Britain as health tourists get an HIV test and drugs over £20,000 a year?