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Britons Outraged Over US Conservatives Criticism of British Health Care

Britons are outraged and speaking out in response to comments among Conservatives in the United States attacking Britain's national health care system as socialist, evil and Orwellian.

Average Britons are usually quite vocal about what they see as the shortcomings of their national health care system, the NHS. But the vehement critique by some conservatives in the United States of the NHS has sparked an outpouring of support here in Britain.

A campaign is underway on the social networking site, Twitter, that even the prime minister and his wife have joined in.

Breaking his usual diplomatic silence about political events in America, Prime Minister Gordon Brown tweeted, "the NHS often makes a difference between pain and comfort, despair and hope, life and death. Thanks for always being there."

Leader of the opposition Conservative Party, David Cameron entered the fray on Friday, also in support of the NHS.

"The fact that in this country you can go to a hospital, you can go to a family doctor and they don't ask you how much money is in your bank account or who you are or whether you're a man or a woman, or live in the town or the countryside - I think it's one of our great national institutions," he said.

Cameron had been criticized for not showing enough support for the health care system.

Labor Party minister Peter Mandelson said the NHS compares very favorably to health care in the U.S., which he described as fine if you have money, but not for those who don't.

"That's not what we have in Britain," he said. "We have a national health service which we are very proud of."

Conservatives in the U.S. have sought to portray the NHS as a "socialist" system that is overly bureaucratic and rations out care. And, they say that is what President Barack Obama is now trying to bring to the U.S, with his plans for health care reform.

The NHS was founded in 1948. It's a huge national health care scheme that has been criticized for issues such as long waiting lists for non critical procedures and the cleanliness of hospitals.

But, in general Britons do not want the NHS replaced, they want it improved. Supporters of the NHS are quick to point out that it costs much less than health care in America and that the World Health Organization ranks Britain's healthcare as 18th in the world, while the U.S. is far behind in 37th place.