• US president wrongly claimed that a "winter crisis" protest was aimed at the NHS.
  • The claim has drawn angry criticism on social media.

US President Donald Trump has caused anger in the UK by claiming that the NHS is "broke and not working".

Trump was seemingly referring to a march in London on 3 February to protest against the "winter crisis" currently facing UK hospitals. Trump took to Twitter to wrongly claim that the march was aimed at the healthcare system itself.

The president is now facing a furious backlash from across the political spectrum.

The demonstration - "NHS in crisis: Fix it now" - was organised by the People's Assembly and Health Campaigns Together. Protesters called for increased funding to allow the NHS to meet the challenges posed by winter conditions.

Trump claimed that the march was evidence that the UK's universal healthcare system was not working. He criticised Democrats for wanting to mirror what he claimed was a "broke" system, saying, "Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!"

The president's tweet drew angry responses from the British public, as well as from MPs, journalists and campaigners.

Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said, "The prime minister is proud of having an NHS that is free at the point of delivery."

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, tweeted his own reply to Trump's claims.

March organisers the People's Assembly and Health Campaigns Together, released a statement in response to Trump's tweet, saying, "We don't agree with your divisive and incorrect rhetoric. No thanks.

"Our current government have been persuaded to increasingly adopt policies which represent those of your government, they have decided to move us more to an American-style system which is widely acknowledged to be one of the most expensive, inefficient and unjust healthcare systems in the world.

This is why our NHS is currently struggling and why leading professors including professor Stephen Hawking are bravely battling politicians who wish to turn it into a system like yours.

"Tens of thousands of British people want to show their love for the principles of universal and comprehensive care free at the point of use, paid for through general taxation."

Just before Trump tweeted, Nigel Farage, former leader of Ukip, had appeared on Fox News claiming that winter pressure on the NHS was being caused by immigration.

Farage claimed "the National Health Service has turned into the International Health Service" and said "we're providing a lot of healthcare for people coming into Britain from all over the world".

As for universal healthcare in the US, Farage said: "If you were to introduce universal healthcare, paid for centrally under taxes, you would never ever be able to remove it."

After the show, the president tweeted, "Thank you to @foxandfriends for exposing the truth. Perhaps that's why your ratings are soooo much better than your untruthful competition!"

The issue of universal healthcare is a contentious issue in the US, with Republicans largely opposing it and Democrats largely supporting it. The issue was a cornerstone of Senator Bernie Sanders' unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump sparked fury as he claimed that UK protesters were marching against an NHS that is "broke and not working" Win McNamee/Getty Images

US citizens must buy private health insurance from an insurance provider or have it supplied by an employer. The US government also funds and operates two healthcare plans - Medicare and Medicaid - designed to cover elderly, young, disabled and poor patients.

Healthcare reform has been a major hurdle of Trump's first year in the White House, as the Republican Party attempted to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

In 2012 before the ACA was introduced, an estimated 48 million people in the US had no health insurance, according to the United States Census Bureau. By 2016, this had fallen to 27 million thanks to the impact of the new legislation. Patients without health insurance who require treatment can face crippling medical bills.

Republican efforts to repeal the ACA failed in 2017 when the bill did not get enough support in Congress.

The Republican tax reform plan passed in January included a repeal of the "individual mandate" element of the ACA. Trump incorrectly claimed that this "essentially repealed Obamacare".