Boris Johnson denied that its key hospital building program was unworkable, as Labor revealed that a ‘game guide’ was released to ensure renovations are described as new hospitals.
Keir Starmer accused Johnson at PMQs of breaking “yet another pledge” on his hospital reconstruction program.
The Health Service Journal reported last month a government infrastructure watchdog has raised concerns about the lack of progress to build 40 new hospitals by 2030.
Starmer said: âThe Cabinet Office and the Treasury have checked the progress and it is reported that they have come to a damning conclusion. They concluded that the project needs a red flag because it is impractical. Prime Minister, is this true?
Johnson replied, âNo. He plays politics and asks frivolous questions, we move closer to the priorities of the people. We are helping build 40 more new hospitals with an injection of Â£ 36bn of investment that this party voted against. “
Starmer replied: “It’s strange because the government didn’t deny the red flag reports and they haven’t since, but now the prime minister is doing it.” There was obviously some confusion on these benches as to whether the Cabinet Office and the Treasury believed it was about to break another promise, this time on new hospital construction. If he’s so confident in his response, why doesn’t he publish the progress report in full and let us all see it? “
Johnson 40 hospitals are under construction but Starmer said the prime minister did not have the confidence to release the report, adding: âThe more we look at this pledge, the murkier it becomes. I have here a document sent by the Department of Health to the NHS. It’s called the âNew Hospital Program Communication Manualâ – I’m not kidding. It offers tips to facilitate communication about the program. This guide asks everyone to describe renovations and modifications to existing hospitals as new hospitals. We can all agree that renovations are a great thing, but these are not new hospitals. How many of the 40 are repair work on existing hospitals and how many are in fact the new hospitals he has promised? “
Johnson replied: âObviously you don’t always build on virgin land, you rebuild hospitals and that’s what we’ve been saying for two and a half years; it is the largest hospital building program ever undertaken in this country.
Starmer joked: “No wonder so many Conservative donors paid so much for this wallpaper last year, he probably told them he was building a new apartment.”
Final, Starmer pointed out Johnson’s “broken promises” before adding, “He has promised 40 new hospitals and even if you count the paint jobs, his own watchdog says he can’t keep it. Is it not true, Mr President, that the promises of this Prime Minister are not worth the manifesto on which they are written? “
Johnson Starmer said “irrelevant dribbling over wallpaper and parties, playing politics,” adding, “They are engaging in factional internal struggles, we are engaging for the people of this country. “