Published: 17:51, 03 December 2019
| Updated: 22:55, 03 December 2019
The shadow health secretary believes Canterbury's run-down hospital should be rebuilt.
Senior Labour politician Jon Ashworth says the city's healthcare provision needs a "rescue package" - and the ideal outcome would be to build a new Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
Mr Ashworth, who visited the Ethelbert Road site this afternoon with incumbent MP Rosie Duffield, says Labour "wants what's best for the whole community" in east Kent.
Prime minister Boris Johnson previously claimed the city would be getting a new hospital - despite not being on a list of 40 hospital projects recently earmarked by the government.
Speaking outside the K&C this evening, Mr Ashworth said: "I think this hospital needs significant investment - the K&C needs to get a rescue package.
"It needs to be rebuilt.
"We need a hospital that works for the whole community and we need a new hospital here.
"But what we're not going to do is make Boris Johnson-style promises that aren't true.
"We're prepared to put £40 billion of investment in to improve the NHS."
Health bosses are currently considering a huge reshuffle of services at east Kent's three hospitals - the K&C, the William Harvey in Ashford, and QEQM in Margate.
Two options are on the table - one to have specialist services and a major trauma unit in Ashford, and the other to centralise east Kent hospital care with a sole A&E centre in Canterbury, which would see A&Es at the Harvey and QEQM close.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also paid a visit to the K&C last month, where he said the site "clearly needs work" but he would not commit to pledging a rebuild.
Rosie Duffield, who today toured the K&C with Mr Ashworth, is yet to nail her colours to the mast over which option she would back.
Asked if she would like a new hospital to built in Canterbury, she said: "Of course I would love that.
"But it isn't my decision to make and for me to pretend I can promise a new hospital is wrong.
"It is irresponsible of other candidates to say they can. The health trust will make the decision.
"If I had to choose an option, a new Canterbury hospital would be the ideal outcome. But I really don't want other areas of east Kent to suffer.
"You have to look at all the other issues such as traffic and travel times.
"To stand up and say I would fully support one of the options would be a throwaway statement."
Mr Ashworth, who says the Labour Party "isn't taking anything for granted" over the Canterbury seat, is urging city residents to cast their votes.
"Canterbury is one of the most significant seats in the country," he said.
"One vote here will affect the NHS as a whole."
More by this authorJoe Wright
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