PM defends government's NHS record on visit to Milton Keynes despite crumbling hospitals in East

  • Matthew Hudson spoke to Rishi Sunak for ITV News Anglia in Milton Keynes.

Rishi Sunak has defended his government's record on the NHS, insisting that the Tories had a plan to deliver new hospitals to replace crumbling buildings - including some held up by props.

The prime minister was speaking to ITV News Anglia as he made his first visit to the East of England since the start of the General Election campaign.

He was quizzed about the Tories' credentials in ensuring the NHS was fit for the 21st century, given high-profile examples such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, where more than 3,000 props stop the roof from collapsing.

Elsewhere in the region, the Princess Alexandra in Harlow has seen parts of its ceiling collapse, while others such as the West Suffolk in Bury St Edmunds and Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon have found collapse-prone aerated concrete.

But Mr Sunak insisted he was committed to health service funding, pointing to his NHS family background, with his father a GP and his mother a pharmacist.

"I saw first-hand, on the front line, the importance of good healthcare for everyone's peace of mind and their security," he told ITV News Anglia.

"And that's why I will always be committed to making sure the NHS is well funded, which it is, with record funding today, and we are in the process of upgrading and rebuilding hospitals including in Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn in the East."

Earlier this month, NHS hospitals promised new buildings told ITV News they were spending tens of millions of pounds every year on maintenance and repair, amid fears that the government would not meet its target of replacing them by 2030.

Mr Sunak also highlighted the roll-out of community diagnostic centres, "so people can get the checks and tests and scans that they need closer to home, much faster".

The prime minister was visiting Niftylift in Milton Keynes, a supplier of cherry pickers, boom lifts and lift platforms.

He also paid tribute to former Conservative MPs Robert Halfon and Chris Heaton Harris who, with the dissolution of Parliament, have now stood down ahead of the General Election in July.

Throughout the rest of the interview, Mr Sunak returned repeatedly to the theme of taking "bold decisions" if his party won the election, by clamping down on "rip-off degrees", introducing modern national service and committing to the so-called "triple lock plus".

Milton Keynes and surrounding seats are seen as key battlegrounds, and both main parties are expected to target them intensely on their road to Number 10.

Both Milton Keynes North and Milton Keynes Central are currently Conservative held seats but Labour would be looking to win them on 4 July.

The notional majority of Tory-held Milton Keynes North was slightly increased by constituency boundary changes following the 2019 general election.

The seat is Labour's sixth most winnable in the Anglia region with Sir Keir Starmer's party needing a 6.6% swing on 4 July.

Labour would need a 4.7% swing to win Milton Keynes Central. It is their third most winnable seat in the region, after Peterborough and Northampton North.

The pivotal seat for Labour is Buckingham and Bletchley where a 12.7% swing is needed - the same required for a Labour majority in parliament.

Milton Keynes Council has been hung since 2014. At the 2023 local elections, Labour took the biggest share of the votes at 38% with a swing of 5%.

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