Row erupts after Lib Dems accuse Rishi Sunak of 'lying' over 40 new hospitals pledge

Row erupts after Lib Dems accuse Rishi Sunak of 'lying' over 40 new hospitals pledge

A row erupted on Thursday over the Government’s pledge to build 40 new hospitals as Rishi Sunak began his election campaign.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, the Prime Minister said the Tories would fulfil their 2019 manifesto commitment to build the hospitals by 2030 despite concerns over funding and the timeline of the project.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said “the majority” of the hospitals planned for construction had already received planning permission and that “spades were in the ground”.

Asked if they would be built by 2030, he replied: “Yes, of course they will.”

Responding to the interview, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP accused Mr Sunak of “lying like Boris Johnson”.

“People will see right through this swindle. The Conservatives promised 40 new hospitals five years ago and instead we’ve seen them left to crumble.

“It is an insult to voters that some of these supposed new hospitals don't even have planning permission yet, let alone spades in the ground.”

NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, warned earlier this month that the New Hospitals Programme has been marred by “delay, indecision and soaring costs”.

The organisation said that millions of pounds every month are being “drained from scarce NHS funds” due to delays, with some forking out more than £1 million a month.

Separate figures show that more than 1.2 million people in London are awaiting routine hospital treatment, despite Mr Sunak’s pledge to bring down waiting lists significantly during his premiership.

The size of the waiting list, along with long waits for GP appointments and treatment in A&E, is likely to be a key issue for voters ahead of the election on July 4.

The latest British Social Attitudes Survey – a long-running poll tracking the views of the public – found that only 24 per cent of the public are satisfied with the NHS.

Mr Sunak told LBC that the Government had “not made as much progress on NHS waiting lists as I would have liked” but cited industrial action by junior doctors in the British Medical Association as the reason for the backlog.

He said: “The waiting lists have now fallen by about 200,000 and actually what the NHS have said is if it wasn’t for the industrial action that we had it would have fallen by almost half a million more than that too, then we would have got them down as I wanted to.”