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General election: PM seeks to return to Brexit message but Labour pile on pressure over NHS

BayRadio | December 11, 2019

Boris Johnson will warn of the “danger” of a hung parliament on the penultimate day of general election campaigning – but Labour have stepped up their attack on the Conservatives over the NHS.

With just two days to go until polling day, the prime minister will use a campaign visit to Staffordshire to urge voters to hand him a House of Commons majority.

He will warn of “sophisticated and well-financed attempts” to prevent the Tories forming a majority government through the encouragement of tactical voting in some constituencies.

Mr Johnson has sought to strengthen his message with a parody of Love Actually, in which he recreated one of the film’s more famous scenes.

However, having endured a difficult day of campaigning on Monday, Mr Johnson could yet face further questions over the NHS as Labour seeks to put increased pressure on the Conservatives.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party claimed their analysis of more than 120 NHS trust board papers had identified hundreds of risks to patient safety classed as “catastrophic” or “extreme”.

The majority are linked to lack of spending, staffing shortages or the failures of privatisation, Labour said.

The party are pledging a “relentless focus” on the NHS in the first 100 days of a Labour government, which would include a full audit of the risks revealed by their research.

Labour said that its research showed last year there were 15,844 patient incidents “directly” related to estates and facilities services and 4,810 clinical incidents caused by estate and infrastructure failure.

It said there were also 1,541 fires recorded by NHS trusts in 2018-19, with 34 people suffering injuries as a result.

The party said the cost of eliminating the backlog of maintenance repairs in NHS trust was £6.5bn, of which £1.1bn was for “high-risk” maintenance and repairs.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “These shocking reports reveal an NHS in crisis and on the brink.

“It is one thing for clinicians and managers to say what needs fixing, but we need a Labour government that will crack on and do it.

“We pledge that within the first 100 days of a Labour government we will get on top of this to ensure the extra funding we’ve promised is prioritised to keep patients and staff safe.

“The choice at this election is clear: five more years of the Tories running our health service into the ground – with more patients waiting longer for cancer treatment and operations, and more young people denied mental health care – or a Labour government on the side of patients and staff, with a rescue plan for our NHS.”

In response to Labour’s claims, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Conservatives are “already embarking on the largest hospital building programme in a generation”.

He added the Conservative government are “building 40 new hospitals across the country, as well as investing in hospital upgrades and new machines to boost early cancer diagnosis”.

“This is on top of the extra £33.9bn a year by 2023 to 2024 that the government is providing to the NHS,” Mr Hancock continued.

The 40 hospitals pledge, however, has been disputed during the campaign, because so far investment has only been allocated for six existing sites.

On Monday, Mr Johnson was criticised over his reaction to the image of a poorly boy on the floor of a hospital floor.

Attempting to steer his campaign back towards his “Get Brexit Done” message on Tuesday, the prime minister will say in Staffordshire: “Jeremy Corbyn and his Lib Dem, nationalist and Green allies need only 12 more seats than last time to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister and continue the chaos of a hung parliament.

“A vote for any of these parties is a vote for further indecision and two more referendums, on Brexit and Scottish independence.

“We’ll be stuck in this limbo, this first circle of hell, for the foreseeable future.

“On the other hand, the Conservatives need only nine more seats for a majority. We could finally get Brexit done, end the uncertainty and move on.

“That is the choice and it could go either way – 12 seats in one direction and the nightmare will continue indefinitely; nine seats in the other direction and we can break free.”

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the SNP, has called on voters to back her party over the Tories to block the prime minister winning the keys to 10 Downing Street.

“Boris Johnson, without question, represents the greatest danger to Scotland of any Tory Prime Minister in modern times,” she said in a statement.

“He is unfit for office and on Thursday by voting SNP we can remove that danger by blocking his path to Downing Street.”

Written by BayRadio

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