UK Politics

Nigel Farage: NHS debate 'will be needed' on insurance system

Nigel Farage
Image caption Nigel Farage says his party has no intention of privatising the NHS

UKIP leader Nigel Farage says the idea of replacing the NHS with an insurance-based system is "a debate that we're all going to have to return to".

Mr Farage told BBC political editor Nick Robinson his backing for the idea had been rejected by his party.

He denied he had "bottled it" by saying UKIP was now committed to the NHS.

He added: "There is no question that healthcare provision is going to have to be very much greater... and we're going to have to find ways to do it."

Last year a video emerged from 2012 in which Mr Farage proposed an "insurance-based system of healthcare".

'Totally honest'

He had been recorded saying: "Frankly, I would feel more comfortable that my money would return value if I was able to do that through the marketplace of an insurance company than just us trustingly giving £100bn a year to central government and expecting them to organise the healthcare service from cradle to grave for us."

The UKIP leader later denied that he had ever advocated an American-style model, saying he had alluded rather to the insurance-based French and Dutch systems.


Analysis by Nick Robinson

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Nigel Farage tried and failed to persuade his party to back his view that the NHS should be replaced with an insurance based system like they have in many parts of the world.

Two years ago he said that he'd be more comfortable if the money he spent on health was invested through the market place rather than central government.

He's now making it clear that he intends to re-open that debate once the election is out out of the way.

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Mr Farage said: "There is no question that healthcare provision is going to have to be very much greater in 10 years than it is today, with an ageing population, and we're going to have to find ways to do it."

A UKIP spokeswoman said Mr Farage was being "totally honest" about the problems of funding healthcare and said party policy was for the NHS to be "free at the point of delivery and unshackled by private finance initiatives".

In the interview for the BBC Radio 4 series Can Democracy Work? the UKIP leader also said if he failed in his campaign to leave the EU it would be "curtains" for him and senior colleagues.

'Frustration'

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on Britain's membership if the Conservatives form the next government.

"The loss of a referendum means curtains for Nigel and it means curtains for the current crowd here in head office," Mr Farage added.

In another development, UKIP's head of policy, Tim Aker, has been replaced amid reported concern over the timetable for publishing the party's manifesto.

Mr Aker, a borough councillor and UKIP's parliamentary candidate in the Essex seat of Thurrock, said he was unable to continue with his policy role. He has been replaced by the party's deputy chairwoman, Suzanne Evans.

The Press Association quoted a party source as conceding there was "frustration" among some candidates that they did not have a full platform on which to campaign.

Ms Evans told the Times a "sensible, radical and fully-costed manifesto" would be ready in time for the party's spring conference, which will be held in Margate in March.

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