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Rishi Sunak says 'positive things' happening in local healthcare as he kicks off campaign in Grantham to become next Prime Minister



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Candidate for Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak kicked off his campaign today with a visit to Grantham.

Mr Sunak made a speech at Vaculug tyre company this morning to supporters as he tries to win the votes of party members in his run-off with opponent Liz Truss.

In his speech Mr Sunak focused on the health service and the economy. He said: "We have national emergencies that must be dealt with and we have to tell the truth. We have to tell the truth about our NHS and the pressure it is under. I have taken a lot of political pain to make sure the NHS has what it needs and I'm the candidate in this contest who can say unequivocally the NHS will be safe in my hands."

Speaking to the Journal, Mr Sunak said he understood the A&E situation in Grantham because the Friarage Hospital in his North Yorkshire constituency had undergone a similar process, although he gave no comfort to those demanding the return of a full A&E unit to Grantham Hospital. Grantham A&E is due to be replaced by an urgent treatment centre.

Mr Sunak said: "Like the hospital here, we went through a process of the services being optimised to serve the local community and what I would say to people here is that the crucial thing is that healthcare needs to be safe and what I discovered in North Yorkshire is we need to make sure that, especially our urgent care, is safe because it is staffed by the right types of doctor.

Rishi Sunak addresses supporters as he kicks off his campaign to become Prime Minister in Grantham. (58179143)
Rishi Sunak addresses supporters as he kicks off his campaign to become Prime Minister in Grantham. (58179143)

"I can tell you first hand that the key thing that we have delivered in North Yorkshire that Gareth (Davies) is campaigning for here, rightly, that should be delivered is 24/7 care. So people want to know that if something happens to their kids in the middle of the night or if something goes wrong that there is something they can rely on and that's why having 24/7 (care) is there for when you need it. That's what we managed to get in North Yorkshire at our hospital which is very similar and that's why people should be reassured."

Mr Sunak added that there were 'positive things' happening in local healthcare. He said: "You have got two things which are happening here which demonstrates what the future of healthcare looks like and is a part of my plan today because we all know that the backlogs are the biggest issue. All of your readers will know somebody who is waiting for something and, as Prime Minister, from day one I am going to set up a task force to tackle all those backlogs."

Rishi Sunak addresses local supporters, including Grantham and Stamford MP Gareth Davies, right. (58179125)
Rishi Sunak addresses local supporters, including Grantham and Stamford MP Gareth Davies, right. (58179125)

"How we are going to do that is to use CDCs (community diagnostic centres) which you have got here. These are brilliant because it means people can cut through all the bureaucracy and get the scans they need very quickly. Also you are doing an elective surgical hub here and as part of my plan we need to use more of those types of things to help break through the backlog delay.

"So actually Grantham is setting an example to everyone else about how we are going to do this. So people should feel really positive about the healthcare situation from that perspective because you are on the forefront of how we are going to tackle the backlogs."

Supporters take the opportunity to have their photo taken with Rishi Sunak. (58179123)
Supporters take the opportunity to have their photo taken with Rishi Sunak. (58179123)

Following on from news that work on Grantham' southern relief road will be delayed at an extra cost of £15 million, Mr Sunak said he believed in investing in roads.

Mr Sunak said: "I do believe in investing in roads, particularly in rural communities where people rely on their cars and we can't ever forget that in government when often people making decisions in London or not always in touch with the challenges of living in rural areas, like mine and like yours. That's why I am really pleased that we are doing the bypass which is something as chancellor that I signed off on and made sure that Grantham got the funding for. I also know that making sure rural areas are properly funded for things like potholes is important.

Photo opportunity with Rishi Sunak. (58179119)
Photo opportunity with Rishi Sunak. (58179119)

"That also comes with investment in town centres. Again as Chancellor I made sure that Grantham got almost £6 million to help regenerate parts of the High Street and town centre and they go together. We want to make it easy for people to travel around."

Mr Sunak responded to people's fears of huge solar farms being developed on farmland when people are concerned about food security. A number of solar farms are planned for the Grantham area with the largest ever planned on arable land near Stamford.

He said: "It is important to be energy independent and that's one of my plans as Prime Minister for us to be energy independent by 2040, and in the same way we have legislated for net zero, we should have a clear target for our energy security, and food security is the same. If you look at things like cucumbers or tomatoes, we are only 15 to 25 per cent sufficient in things like that. We can clearly do better and if I am Prime Minister I will want to make sure we have a clear food security strategy and that we increase the production of British produce because it is world class and not only good for our security but something we can export all around the world.

Rishi Sunak meets local supporters. (58179121)
Rishi Sunak meets local supporters. (58179121)

"There are lots of competing interests on the precious land that we have. We need to make sure that we do put food security, food production and farming at the heart of it."

Asked about Grantham-born Margaret Thatcher, Mr Sunak said: "She was one of the greatest post-war prime ministers this country has had and certainly our party has had. I am not going to be so arrogant as to try and claim any similarities at all, but what I would say is that the values that she espoused are the ones that I am drawing on, because those are my values, they were her values and they are Conservative values. That's about the importance of family. Family is everything to me. I would not be here today without the support of my family and, as prime Minister, family will be something that I champion.

"She talked about hard work and that's what I was brought up with. My parents worked very hard. I worked very hard and if you work hard then you can succeed. I want to create, as Prime Minister, a society where if people work hard then they are rewarded for that.

Rishi Sunak meets voters of the future. (58179117)
Rishi Sunak meets voters of the future. (58179117)

"And crucially, in the debate about the economy, she believed that you have to live within your means. It's a deeply Conservative thing to do. She talked about people at home balancing their bills. I learned that at my kitchen table doing my mum's accounts for her chemist business. Margaret Thatcher was a grocer's daughter. So I think there is a similarity there and I feel that very strongly. It's a moral thing as well.

"The idea that you rack up bills that you pass on to your children and grandchildren to pay is not something that I want to do. I don't think it is a very Conservative thing to do and I think that she would agree with that."



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