Nigel Farage: Government-Run Healthcare Almost Killed Me

British politician Nigel Farage claims that he almost died from testicular cancer at age 21 while the country’s government healthcare system gave him the runaround.

Soon to be 51 and a father of four, Farage describes in his new autobiography The Purple Revolution how he almost fell through the bureaucratic/medical cracks when he was seriously ill, adding that his life was saved by private insurance and that he nonetheless still supports the existing system in Britain.

The U.K. National Health Service (NHS) is what we would generally describe here as single-payer healthcare, a completely government-run system that the American left has traditionally pushed for, with Obamacare as an interim step in that direction. Perhaps the U.S. analog to the NHS is the Veterans Affairs hospital system, which has well-documented shortcomings.

Farage, who still smokes cigarettes and stops by the local pub for a beer, is the outspoken and often politically incorrect leader of the populist UK Independence Party (UKIP or Ukip) and member of the European Parliament. In addition to the cancer misdiagnosis, he has also survived a plane crash.

Last May, Ukip under Farage’s charismatic and teleprompter-free leadership won the most seats for Britain’s representation in the European Union, the first time in about 100 years that a third party won a national election in England. Farage is himself also a candidate for the British parliament, the House of Commons, in the upcoming May 2015 general election, in which even a modest number of Ukip wins could play a decisive role in forming a governing coalition in Westminster. Ukip already holds two seats in parliament as a result of special-election victories.

The rise of Ukip has resulted in part because many British voters have become disenchanted with the Conservatives/Tories on the right and the Labor Party on the left. As such, neither is expected to achieve an outright majority in parliament (a similar scenario to what is likely to occur in Israel after Tuesday’s election there.)

Labor voters coming over to Ukip are roughly equivalent to what we would call Reagan Democrats.

Ukip wants to reassert the sovereignty of Britain by exiting the European Union via referendum and leaving behind all its assorted heavy-handed regulations, and also, among other things, to clamp down on massive immigration into the U.K., which has come from both from third-world countries as well as from eastern Europe, the latter as a result of EU decrees. The influx has destabilized social services and pushed wages downward in the country, Ukip and Farage maintain.

In a long excerpt from the book published in the London Telegraph, Farage wrote about ultimately having a testicle surgically removed but avoiding chemotherapy after a series of blood tests indicated that the cancer miraculously hadn’t spread.

“For the best part of two months I had been fobbed off by one NHS doctor to the next — apart from my own GP, all the rest thought I had nothing more serious than a common cold… The cancer — and I am scared of tempting fate — has, to date, not come back. I’m not sure how it fully affected me, but it has left me with a clear belief that without private health care I would probably be dead. I just do not understand that, for want of a scan, I might not be here now. How could so many doctors have come to the conclusion that a scan was not cheaper in the medium to long term than being in hospital for three or four days?… I left London Bridge Hospital with a clear view that the NHS is so over-stretched that if you can afford private health care, you should take it, particularly for diagnostics and preventative medicine…The NHS is, however, astonishingly good at critical care. But what testicular cancer taught me is that the NHS will probably let you down if you need screening, fast diagnosis and an operation at a time that suits you…..”

Farage also asserted that waves of immigration into the U.K. have stretched NHS hospitals to the limit, something that the other political parties in the country are unwilling to discuss openly.

During the election season, the Ukip leader has had to fend off allegations that his support for the existing British healthcare system is lukewarm.

“I have now had three near-death experiences — cancer, an accident and a plane crash — and I’ve seen the best and worst of the NHS. I am better qualified to criticize and defend our health care system than most politicians…When I had cancer, the incompetence and negligence of the NHS almost killed me, but it has also saved my life. I am certainly not taking any flak from gutless politicians who claim that I am no fan or supporter of the NHS,” Nigel Farage concluded.

[Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images News]