UK Politics

Nigel Farage: Choose private healthcare if you can afford it

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Media captionNigel Farage says those who can afford private health care should pay to relieve "some of the burden" on the NHS

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has told the BBC people should use private healthcare if they can afford it, to "relieve the pressure" on NHS services.

Mr Farage dismissed fears this would create a "two tier" system in the NHS, saying there was already one.

He stressed that this was his personal view, rather than official UKIP policy.

It comes after Mr Farage claimed in his memoirs that the NHS "almost killed" him after doctors failed to spot his testicular cancer in his 20s.

In extracts published in the Daily Telegraph at the weekend, he said he was "fobbed off" by NHS doctors but was later diagnosed with cancer after a scan at a private hospital.

The UKIP leader said the NHS was "astonishingly good" at critical care, but "battered and poorly run" in other areas and that people should opt for private treatment if they could.

GP appointments

In a BBC Radio 5Live interview with John Piennar on Tuesday, Mr Farage defended his suggestion that the better off would relieve pressure on the NHS by choosing to go private.

"Those that can afford to do it should and they will find healthcare to suit their needs, because for most people actually getting a GP appointment now has become a massive problem with the population having risen the way that it has

"And if people do opt out and go private, what that of course does is to relieve the pressure on the health service for everybody else," he said.

Put to him that his proposal would create a two-tier health service and downgrade the NHS for other users, Mr Farage said: "No certainly not. That exists already."

He added: "I'd also point out that private medicine brings a lot of money into this country every year and is no bad thing."

European comparisons

Mr Farage made similar points on BBC 2's Daily Politics, saying his suggestion only applied to between 5% and 8% of the population.

The UKIP leader was also asked about past reports that suggested the party wanted to privatise NHS services, or bring in an insurance-based model.

Mr Farage said UKIP believed the NHS should be free at the point of delivery, but argued that it needed to be much better run, "to give us more bang for our buck".

He said the UK was lagging behind France and Germany in areas such as stroke, cancer and heart disease rates.

UKIP has pledged to fund the health service by an extra £3bn, paid for by reducing the UK's payments to the European Union.

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