Jeremy Corbyn in Telford: 'We'll keep both Shropshire A&Es' - with video and pictures
A&E units at Telford and Shrewsbury hospitals would remain open full-time under a Labour government, Jeremy Corbyn has pledged.
The Labour leader issued the guarantee as he visited the Telford Campus of Wolverhampton University in Priorslee today.
But the pledge was swiftly met with an accusation of political opportunism from Conservative politicians in the county.
Mr Corbyn, who was raised and educated in Shropshire said: “It’s great to be here in Telford. It feels like I’m at home”.
He added: "I am old enough to remember when Telford did not have a hospital and there was a campaign to get it built.
WATCH: Jeremy Corbyn in Telford:
On an election campaign trail stop, Mr Corbyn said that he and the shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth had agreed that both Shrewsbury and Telford have populations that need full 24-hour accident and emergency units.
He also dismissed plans for A&E at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital to be replaced by an ‘A&E Local’.
He said: “Jonathan Ashworth and I have discussed this many times. We have discussed it with the council and I am absolutely clear there need to be A&E departments in both Shrewsbury and Telford, full time.
“And I do pay tribute to all those that have campaigned on this over a very long period of time.”
He added: “A&E Local or a walk in centre where there’s not necessarily a consultant on duty is not a proper A&E and once you lose a proper functioning A&E department in many hospitals it becomes unsafe in other areas.
“There is a rising population in Shropshire and in the area covered by the hospital in Shrewsbury as well as here so I think there is an overwhelming case there.”
Mr Corbyn insisted Labour will deliver “real change” and that he will be a different kind of prime minister if elected on December 12.
The issue of hospital services in the county has come into stark contrast ahead of the election after the health secretary Mat Hancock gave the go-ahead for the ‘Future Fit’ re-organisation of PRH and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, both managed by Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust.
The Future Fit proposal would see RSH become home to the county’s main A&E. The consultant-led women and children’s services, currently based at PRH, would move to Shrewsbury.
Mr Hancock has directed that PRH’s A&E would become an ‘A&E Local’ – a change on the previous Future Fit plan for the hospital to become an ‘urgent care centre. But the new unit will only be restricted to “core hours”, and would only deal with emergency ambulance cases such as low risk chest pain, pneumonia, DVT or cellulitis.
Shrewsbury & Atcham’s Conservative candidate and four time MP Daniel Kawczynski dismissed the Labour leader’s pledge as political opportunism.
He said: “For pure political expediency Mr Corbyn has announced that he would overturn the £320 million investment into our local trust.”
Mr Corbyn is targeting Telford as a must-win seat. He was joined at the rally by Labour candidate Katrina Gilman, who will challenge Tory MP Lucy Allan.
The Labour leader also said he will make sure that more than 100,000 “genuinely affordable” homes are built every year and that rough sleeping comes to an end.
He said he would be a “very different kind of prime minister” who “only seeks power in order to share power”.
The Labour leader said: “The politics I stand for is about sharing power and wealth with people who don’t have a lot of money and don’t have friends in high places.”
He added: “The future is ours to make. I want a Labour government to be judged by whether it changes people’s lives for the better after five years.
“Judge us on the real change we deliver, the concrete improvements to the lives of millions.
“Judge us on whether in-work poverty still exists in five years’ time.
“Judge us on whether people are still sleeping rough after five years of a Labour government.
“Judge us on whether proud women and men are still having to depend on food banks five years into a Labour government.
“Judge us on whether we’ve got Brexit sorted within six months so we can get on with delivering the real change that Britain needs.
“Judge us on whether we’ve unleashed a Green Industrial Revolution, created hundreds of thousands of green energy jobs in the communities that need them most and significantly reduced our greenhouse emissions.
“For me, real politics, the politics I stand for, is about sharing power and wealth with people who don’t have a lot of money and don’t have friends in high places – to take control of their own lives.
“My job as leader, and my party’s job, is to champion those people, and bring about real change.
“So if you, the British people, elect a Labour government on December 12, I will be proud to be your prime minister. Because I will be a very different kind of prime minister. Not the kind of prime minister who believes he was born to rule. Not the kind who thinks politics is a game.
“But the kind of prime minister who only seeks power in order to share power – because it isn’t about me, it’s about all of us.”
Mr Corbyn said: "My view of leadership is different from the one that people are used to, and that's been deeply analysed by many hostile articles in newspapers, but that's OK, they've got to write things, it's their living.
"Yes I believe leaders should have clear principles that people can trust, and the strength and commitment not to be driven off course. You have to stand for something.
"But leaders must also trust others to play their part. Think of it like this: a good leader doesn't just barge through a door and let it swing back in the faces of those following behind.
"A good leader holds open the door that others may walk through in the future - because in our society everyone has a contribution to make.
"So when I talk about real change, that isn't something that will be done to you. It's something that can only be done with you."
Concluding his speech, Mr Corbyn said: "I want to lead a government that's on your side.
"That puts power and wealth into the hands of the people - a government that works for you."