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Paul T Horgan: What the BBC will never tell you about migrants and the NHS


Net migration has fallen. The government has delivered on a promise. Well, almost. The government could not deliver so long as there was the prospect of perpetual free movement of people from the EU. That is coming to an end, thanks to the good old British voter.

The reports of this fall have portrayed it as some kind of national disaster. As with membership of the EU, the media, led by the BBC, are out of tune with the British people.
We are still told that immigration is good for the UK for two main reasons. First, that migrants are not a net drain on the economy, but actually a boost. Second, that the NHS could not function without migrant labour. However, it is only repetition, especially on the BBC, that gives these notions currency. There may be ‘research’ providing validation, but there is a risk that this is carried out by groups or firms with an agenda or commercial interest.

We have had net migration in the UK of about a million people every three years. At the same time employment has increased. The latest figures show unemployment levels where they were in 1975. However, while more workers are employed, the added value created by their labours has not gone up in proportion. Productivity has actually fallen. The implication is that people come to our shores to be paid more to work less in a better living environment. Lower productivity is a draining factor on the economy. This is not properly reported.

It could be argued that falling productivity is not caused by migrant employment but by the domestic workforce, which is a tad insulting to people brought up here. If this were the case, it would mean that the government’s education and training policies have all failed. However, no politician of any hue would ever admit to any link between declining education standards and falling productivity requiring the British economy to become addicted to large-scale migrant labour.

The second assertion, concerning the need by the NHS for uncontrolled migration, is also questionable. The NHS is a planned service. If there is uncontrolled migration, it is impossible for the NHS to plan its services because it can have no understanding of the future size of the population and its likely needs. If a universal and free service is offered, entitlement has to be controlled to secure availability. This is not done. A free service is pointless if it is not available. This uncontrolled and unpredicted rise in population cannot help but be a drain on the country. Again, this is never reported.

We are never told how the NHS plans for increases in population, still less for how many people the NHS has planned to provide services. What we do know is that the NHS is oversubscribed. Migration has to be in part responsible for this.

It is bandied about that the NHS could not function without migration, even though it is migration that increases unpredicted demand for NHS services. But this does not justify an open-door policy, as advocated by the Left. There was net migration of about a quarter of a million people last year. How many of these came to work in the NHS? We are never told. If it is, say, 2,000 or 20,000, that fact alone does not justify letting in the remaining 220,000 who are not working for the NHS, but who will generate unplanned demand for NHS services.

The NHS’s recruitment of migrants and the increase in demand caused by migration may just cancel each other out, if we are lucky. We are never told. Once out of the EU, the government can set up a controlled immigration policy, providing priority to those coming to work in the NHS with a visa system tied to employment. It could even have migrants leave once they have stopped working for the NHS. A truly sovereign country can do this. The extra demand for NHS services caused by migration could be lowered by properly controlling immigration or entitlement. The NHS immigration argument stands up only as a result of repetition. It is never debated on the BBC, only parroted. Funny, that.

Restricting migration would mean that the government would be obliged to become more family-friendly to encourage the birth rate to rise and to provide proper education and training. Instead, trained labour is imported, to the detriment of the countries that have invested in the workers’ support and training, and also to the detriment of young people here trying to get on the bottom rung of the jobs ladder.

No one ever discusses the impact of the NHS’s recruitment of overseas staff on the health services of the countries they leave. While applauding the NHS over here, it has to be remembered that the NHS does in effect loot trained staff from other countries and is therefore indirectly responsible for health service shortages elsewhere, especially in Third World countries. Sending nurses to combat Ebola outbreaks is not a panacea, especially when the nurses return home once the emergency is over, leaving the population to whatever health service remains once some of its qualified people have come here to work for the NHS. Perhaps an open-door policy is some kind of atonement for this under-reported human resource depletion.

The migration argument is far from over. However, for the BBC and liberal media commentators, it is already settled: the fall is bad news. But then instant doom and gloom was promised the day after voting for Brexit. Capitalism is always better than socialism in adapting to change. It will adapt to this change as well. The fall may also please the NHS planners as the service overstretch will not be so acute. But we will never know because they will never tell. And even if they do, the BBC will never report it.

(Image: Jakkapan/

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Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan worked in the IT Sector. He lives in Berkshire.

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