Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron visited Grantham this afternoon a day after his party’s triumphant victory in the Richmond Park by-election.
Mr Farron visited Grantham hospital on his way to the Sleaford and North Hykeham constituency where his party will fight another by-election on Thursday (December 8).
Yesterday Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney overturned a 23,015 majority ousting former Tory Zac Goldsmith who was standing as an independent.
Mr Farron passed through Grantham to support his Sleaford candidate Ross Pepper. Speaking to the Journal on his way to Grantham Hospital, he described the closure of the A&E department overnight as “absolutely outrageous”. The hospital is the closest for people in the Sleaford constituency which includes Barrowby, Great Gonerby, Barkston and Ancaster.
Mr Farron said: “It seems to me absolutely outrageous. We need to spend more money on health and social care.”
Mr Farron, who is MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, added: “In this part of the world with A&E closed and with other restrictions on the hospital, this highlights the fact we are one of the worst funded health services in Europe. Over the last 20 years we have seen a decline in health care expenditure when ages are going up and the costs of the NHS have gone up.
“The conclusion is that we need to put more money into the NHS. If that means putting up taxes in order to pay for the kind of healthcare and social care that people in this part of the world and across the country need, then we are going to be honest enough to say so.
“We would abolish the sustainability and transformation programme because it is not about efficiency, it’s about the Government dictating to the very hard-pressed health experts on the ground how they are going to make savings when they have already cut everything to the bone that they can meaningfully or reasonably get any efficiencies out of.
“My constituency is not that different from here in terms of being very rural and away from any large population centres. Although they are nice places to live they are difficult places to recruit and retain staff and a lot of that is about where you train staff. The more you train locally, the more you will keep them locally. It’s also about communication and connections with other communities, housing and other things as well. So this has got to be done holistically and it’s why we need to look not just at the health service on its own, but at social care, schools, all those other services we desperately need in order to make sure this is a sustainable community.”
Mr Farron left Grantham Hospital to go on and meet his candidate and supporters in Sleaford.