Nigel Farage: Foreign HIV patients should pay up or get out

The UK should force migrants suffering from life-threatening diseases to pay for their own treatment or be expelled from the country, Nigel Farage insisted today.

Asked if he would "bolt the door" on migrants and refugees suffering from HIV and other illnesses, the Ukip leader replied that he would.

"You either say 'we're sorry we don't want this' or they say 'It's fine. I've got the money and I can pay for the treatment" he told LBC.

Farage said long-term residents should get priority for treatment.

"When it comes to our public services in this country and the feeling that many families have paid in for generations then it's a question of priorities in terms of who you treat," he said.

"The first duty of government is to protect its own citizens and when you increasingly see cancer drugs being withdrawn from people because they're too expensive… my argument is that it is our job to look after the people of our own country first."

He denied that he was "heartless" on the issue and attacked the media for criticising him for it.

"I sometimes think that in the metropolitan London media elite there are issues like this that the media class and their friends in the Notting Hill set… [are] contemptuous of the way that ordinary people think and feel on these issues."

Factcheck: Is Farage right about health tourism?

Farage claimed today that the UK is losing up to "£2 billion" a year to "health tourism" from other countries.

However analysis by Full Fact earlier this year put the cost of deliberate health tourism at most between £110 and £280 million.

And other studies have found that refusing treatment for HIV and other illnesses to foreign nationals could actually cost more money.

In 2012 the coalition government made HIV treatment free for everyone in the UK, regardless of immigration status, partly in order to save money.

Research had shown that effective early treatment of HIV reduced the chances of transmission, as well as the wider treatment costs.

In any case, an earlier report by the National Aids Trust in 2008 found no evidence that people suffering from HIV were motivated to become health tourists to the UK in the first place.

"There is no evidence to demonstrate HIV health tourism to be a significant or real motivation for migration to the UK," they found, adding that "There is considerable evidence to demonstrate that HIV health tourism cannot be a significant reason for the migration to the UK of HIV-infected individuals, in particular the lower rates of HIV prevalence compared with country of origin, the long average delays between arrival in the UK and accessing HIV testing and care and the evidence available on the actual motivations of migrants coming to the UK."