18 November, 2008


Free specialist medical treatment in the UK? I always thought it was a bit cheeky of us. A year ago, at a meeting of Chief Ministers and FCO officials in London, our Chief Minister delivered a paper, “Access to UK Health Care”. We have previously been granted the privilege of sending up to five persons unable to obtain specialist medical treatment in Anguilla to England to get it free of cost. That means at the cost of the English taxpayer. It appears that we were not satisfied with that number. The Chief Minister was calling on the FCO to pay for that number of patients to be substantially increased for Anguilla. If you do not remember, you can read all about it in the Anguillian Newspaper.

There are many Anguillian patients who need specialist medical treatment that is not available in Anguilla. Such treatment is almost certainly available in nearby Barbados or Puerto Rico. England seemed a bit far to go. And, why were we asking the British taxpayer to fund our medical bills? I could not understand. Surely, it would have been more appropriate for our taxpayers to fund deserving cases? And, why not send our medical patients that we are paying for to Puerto Rico or Barbados for treatment? The convenience of the shorter travel distance, and the probability of the cost being no greater, seemed to me to be the clinchers in the argument.

Anyway, I heard nothing more about the issue. The Chief Minister came back from London and reported that the British Minister of Health was looking into it. Well, it seems we got our answer in the House of Commons yesterday. As Dawn Primarolo, Minister of Health, explained, there is no limit to the amount of Anguillians allowed to travel to the UK for health care. But, they must stand in line and pay for it like any other overseas visitor. Nor are there any plans on the part of the UK government to review the quota of patients that Anguilla can refer to the UK. Quite right too! Any Minister who answered otherwise should be fired immediately. Any political party that authorised her to answer otherwise should be dismissed from government at the next elections. It seemed pellucidly clear to me.

If it were to be otherwise, I have a proposal for ensuring reciprocity and saving our pride. We in the wealthier Overseas Territories such as Anguilla ought to invite impoverished English medical patients to spend time in our sunshine to help them to recover their health faster. After all, it is free for us. It does not cost us anything to share it. We might as well throw in the airfare and board and lodging for the duration of their stay. All paid for by the Anguillian taxpayer, of course. And, let us see how that suggestion would fly with the Anguillian taxpayer.


  1. Why are we so insistent upon hiring our "Caribbean brothers" when we need foreign workers, but have no such loyalty to their medical institutions?

  2. "Caribbean brotherhood" has become a thinly-disguised code phrase for racism directed at our Asian brothers. Or non-brothers, depending on what church you go to or what your ulterior political motives are.


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