The recording, uncovered by the Guardian, shows Farage saying he thought the marketplace could deliver better value for money when it comes to spending on the NHS.
He said he was fed up of Miliband’s “mud-slinging” and criticised Labour for thinking it owns the NHS, as well as claiming reports of Ukip’s NHS policy were not accurate.
“Because I’ve suggested that government ministers like Jeremy Hunt, Andy Burnham, and Kenneth Clarke aren’t necessarily always the best arbiters of how healthcare is provided, suddenly I’ve been accused of calling for an “American-style” healthcare system. The leftwing press have lapped it all up,” he wrote.
“Alas for them and their spin doctors; it’s untrue. I don’t want to hand faceless private-sector companies control of our health service. We’ve now have two successive governments who have done that and it is clear that it doesn’t work.”
He did not directly address the video, made in September 2012 on his Common Sense tour of the UK, which contrasts with Ukip’s new claims that it is opposed to privatisation of the NHS.
Speaking to a meeting in Sussex, Farage said: “I think we’re going to have to think about healthcare very, very differently. I think we are going to have to move to an insurance-based system of healthcare. Frankly, I would feel more comfortable that my money would return value if I was able to do that through the market place 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.
“I just feel with the whole healthcare service, one promise Blair did keep is that he would increase expenditure. We’ve doubled expenditure on the NHS in 15 years and we haven’t got frankly double the return.
“If I had a magic answer, I could glibly say, don’t give the EU £50m quid a day and spend it on British pensioners. That would get a clap round the audience but actually even that would not be sufficient to deal with the scale of this problem. That is me being completely honest with you.”
Asked about the video, a Ukip spokesman said the NHS was an area where the party’s policy has developed the most over the last few years and Farage’s comments in Sussex no longer represented his views.
“Obviously things have moved on significantly since then. That was then and this is now. It doesn’t stand up to say that’s still his view.”
The Ukip spokesman said there was some truth in the idea that something has got to give in the NHS but it would be reckless and impractical to go that way in the foreseeable future. He also pointed out Ukip has taken the radical step of aligning with the trade unions to oppose TTIP – a US-EU trade deal that its opponents say could allow American private health firms into the NHS.
“We have people in the party who know significantly more about the NHS than we did at that time,” the spokesman said.
The NHS has become a huge battleground in byelections between Labour and Ukip, which is trying to appeal to the disillusioned left.
Farage’s party fought the Heywood & Middleton byelection and is battling to win Rochester & Strood next week on a platform of protecting the NHS.
However, Labour has pointed out on its leaflets that Ukip MEP Paul Nuttall, posted a letter on his website a few years ago praising the coalition for bringing a “whiff of privatisation to the NHS”. Farage has also got into hot water previously for telling the Telegraph that he thought a big businessman could be better at running the NHS than its current officials.
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