Nigel Farage: NHS 'almost killed me'
Nigel Farage has rounded on the National Health Service claiming it almost killed him and accusing medics of "incompetence and negligence".
The Ukip leader claimed he was "fobbed off by one NHS doctor to the next" who failed to diagnose his cancer and said "without private health care I would probably be dead".
In highly personal memoirs, he recounts details of his cancer diagnosis and the accidents that left him fearing for his life, revealing he could chose to be registered disabled because his body is badly damaged.
Lashing out at politicians from the major Westminster parties for being afraid to speak out about the flaws in the health service, he insists he is " better qualified to criticise and defend our health care system than most politicians".
In The Purple Revolution, serialised in the Telegraph, Mr Farage praises the NHS for being "astonishingly good" at emergency critical care but claims the NHS will "probably let you down" over screening and a fast diagnosis.
He said the system is "so over-stretched that if you can afford private health care, you should take it" and warned that the NHS " is so battered and poorly run that unless you are really lucky, you will fall through the cracks".
" There are huge problems with the NHS, deep structural ones, but, as I have said, I know more than most what that means on a personal level," he wrote. "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."
Mr Farage gives a intimate insight into the way he was dealt with by the health service while suffering with testicular cancer at the age of 21.
He wrote: " Several doctors examined me - registrars, locums, all that lot - and they came to the conclusion that I had a twisted testicle. I would need an immediate operation, they said. I was taken by ambulance to hospital in Farnborough, Hants, where I was re-examined by another four doctors. It was pretty painful.
" An Indian doctor told me that the Bromley doctors had got it all wrong: I had an infection. I was to go home and take a heavy dose of antibiotics. I did not need an operation after all. A few weeks went by and the pain was just as bad. All the time, my left testicle was getting markedly larger."
Mr Farage said that six weeks later he was having difficulty walking and his "left testicle was as large as a lemon and rock hard".
But despite being in a "terrible state" a consultant directed him to ''keep taking the antibiotics" and sent him away.
After being told he was covered by company health insurance he went for private treatment and was swiftly informed he had a tumour and would need to have a testicle removed.
Mr Farage told how he was "terrified" when doctors told him he may have secondary tumours in his stomach and lungs. More than 30 years on, recounting the period "makes me upset", he added.
The combined effects of a serious car accident a few years later and a plane crash on the day of the 2010 election has left him with the body of a 70-year-old, he said.
After the air accident Mr Farage was told that he could be signed off as partially disabled but having a blue badge would be " conceding defeat".
" I remember thinking, 'so this is it, this is how it ends'," he said of the air crash. "When people say that their life flashed before them when they thought they were about to die, it is rubbish.
"All I could think of was how much there was I still wanted to do and the impact my death would have on others - my girls were still so little and the boys were only just finding their way in the world."
He added: " Having nearly died three times has made me a much bigger risk-taker. When you think your life is about to be taken away and you are given it back, you just want to get on and do things.
"There's no time to waste: children to bring up, elections to win, pheasants to pluck, wine to drink."