Conservatives have ‘failed to fix crumbling hospitals’, say Lib Dems

A senior Liberal Democrat candidate has said the Government has “failed to fix our crumbling hospitals”.

The party’s manifesto will feature a pledge to “reverse cuts to the Public Health Grant” for local authorities in an “invest to save” bid, a spokesperson said.

Announcing the General Election pledge, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “The Conservative Party has decimated public health funding, leaving Britain with a ticking time bomb of health challenges.

“The public health crisis in our country has Rishi Sunak’s fingerprints all over it. He has slashed funding for vital local services that support children, failed to fix our crumbling hospitals and overseen a stark rise in health inequality.

“The Liberal Democrats would reverse these scandalous cuts and invest in empowering local communities and individuals to lead healthier lives. It is time to recognise that it is far cheaper to prevent ill health than to treat it.”

The party pointed to research by The Health Foundation that found the Public Health Grant was cut 28% on a real-terms per person basis between 2015/16 and 2024.

According to the Liberal Democrats, £1 billion of investment each year, paid for by a crackdown on tax evasion, would support communities’ ability to “improve their own health” and reduce NHS pressures by spending money “effectively on prevention programmes to help prevent people from becoming ill in the first place”.

Local elections
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper announced her party’s manifesto pledge to reverse cuts to the Public Health Grant (Joe Giddens/PA)

The party described its pledge as the “second major pillar of the party’s plan to fix the health and care crisis, following proposals announced last week to boost GP numbers by 8,000 and give people the legal right to see a GP within seven days”.

But Health Secretary Victoria Atkins accused the Lib Dems of “sniping from the sidelines” as she defended her party’s record on health.

“Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives have a clear plan and have taken bold action, not only committing to building 40 new hospitals by 2030, but also delivering 160 community diagnostic centres, a year ahead of the original target.

“These centres have already delivered more than seven million tests, checks and scans across England, helping to tackle ill-health across the country.”