The head of the NHS has hit back at Donald Trump, saying the British people are deeply committed to a national health service which costs half that of US healthcare.
At a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee about NHS cyber security, Simon Stevens asked to make “one opportunistic comment” after a day of heated debate about the US President’s claims the NHS was "going broke and not working".
Earlier Downing Street had already responded to Mr Trump’s remarks, saying the Prime Minister was "proud" of the NHS and its funding was "at a record high".
Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt also hit back by attacking the US system which leaves millions without adequate health cover.
In the hearing session with MPs, Mr Stevens gave a passionate defence of the NHS, about Mr Trump’s “Twitter attack on the NHS” - and urged the President to come see the health service for himself.
He told MPs: “President Trump has been tweeting about the National Health Service today and unfortunately respectfully I think we would suggest that tweet got the wrong end of the stick and in fact people in this country dont want to ditch our NHS … they want to keep it and strengthen it.”
Mr Stevens continued: “So our invitation in the NHS - should the President be visiting later this year - would be to spend time with brilliant doctors, hospitals, technology experts, scientists, hear about the cataract services, the hip replacements, the modern scanners, the world first liver and heart transplant, the genomic revolution all underway here in the NHS - and go away understanding that healthcare for everybody, delivered at half the cost of the US healthcare system is something that people in this country are deeply and rightly committed to.”
I may disagree with claims made on that march but not ONE of them wants to live in a system where 28m people have no cover. NHS may have challenges but I’m proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage - where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance https://t.co/YJsKBAHsw7— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) February 5, 2018
Mr Trump had earlier tweeted: "The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working.
"Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!"
The tweet appears to refer to marches asking for more funding for the NHS which took place at the weekend, organised by anti-privatisation groups.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt responded: "I may disagree with claims made on that march but not ONE of them wants to live in a system where 28m people have no cover.
"NHS may have challenges but I’m proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage - where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance."
Theresa May backed her health minister's comments, and a spokesperson said she is proud of the NHS.
The spokesperson said: "The prime minister is proud of having an NHS that is free at the point of delivery.
Hey, Britain here. Literally nobody here would ever want to trade our National Health Service for what America has. https://t.co/RQD0fIlMEV— James O'Malley (@Psythor) February 5, 2018
"NHS funding is at a record high and was prioritised in the Budget with an extra £2.8 billion. In the recent Commonwealth Fund international survey, the NHS was rated the best int he world for a second time.
"Jeremy Hunt is the health secretary and of course he speaks for the government on these matters."
Jeremy Corbyn weighed in, tweeting: "Wrong. People were marching because we love our NHS and hate what the Tories are doing to it. Healthcare is a human right."
This should help smooth things out over that presidential visit https://t.co/AIAutagoez— Tom Bateman (@tomb8man) February 5, 2018
We're allowed to insult the NHS but you're not. https://t.co/Ngga5yUGkR— Louise Adams (@Shladams) February 5, 2018
It was only a matter of time...'The Donald' crashes into the NHS crisis debate https://t.co/Kx0IHGJlmg— Alastair McLellan (@HSJEditor) February 5, 2018