Lib Dems accuse Tory Minister of chasing headlines, after announcing money for scheme which hasn’t even been agreed!
A senior Conservative Government Minister is being accused of chasing headlines, after announcing £8m of funding for changes to community healthcare in Hinckley and Bosworth which health officials admit haven't even been given the go ahead.
Late last year, the Tory Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock MP got positive local media coverage after announcing the investment for the changes.
But, in an e-mail to campaigners, local health officials admit that their scheme, variations of which have already failed to get the go-ahead on previous occasions in recent years, has yet to even be agreed.
In the correspondence Spencer Gay, the Interim Managing Director of West Leicestershire CCG, states: 'Whilst it is exciting and positive news that the £8m investment has been allocated to Hinckley and Bosworth, our plans are still required to be approved by NHS England before we can begin our public consultation.'
It goes on, 'We do not know the exact timescale for this, but will continue to work through the process during 2019.'
Liberal Democrat campaigners say announcing money for a scheme which hasn't even been given the green light smacks of chasing headlines and votes and patronises local patients and residents who, having seen that announcement, would likely have believed that the changes were definitely going ahead.
Hinckley County Councillor Michael Mullaney says, "People are rightly cynical about politics when they hear things like this.
"Surely the Secretary of State should wait for a scheme to get the green light from the relevant health body, before announcing what money is being spent on it.
"This smacks of wanting positive headlines and, many would argue, not being fully open with voters about the reality of the situation."
He goes on, "We have a large and growing population in Hinckley and Bosworth which deserves quality NHS services.
"Whilst I welcome any extra resources, people in our area want to know when we will get the Walk-In Centre that Hinckley and the surrounding area needs from this Tory government."
Health campaigner and former Lib Dem Councillor Mathew Hulbert says, "I don't know, and neither does the Secretary of State, whether the proposed changes will get the go-ahead this time.
"Maybe they will. But what happens if they are again turned down?
Will the £8m still be coming to our borough or not?
"Investment in our NHS is to be welcomed, of course, but the Tories announcing the funding whilst we're still, potentially, many months away from the scheme it's set to be spent on being agreed by NHS England, will by seen by many as odd at best and as deeply cynical at worst.
"The people of Hinckley and Bosworth deserve much better than that and we Liberal Democrats will continue to call out the government and demand the investment and facilities which our growing population so desperately needs."