Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for local people to be made fully aware of the plans for the future of Kettering General Hospital.
Mr Miliband visited Rockingham for a question and answer session with Labour’s Corby by-election candidate Andy Sawford, in which the leader of the opposition faced a series of questions from residents.
Mr Miliband told the Telegraph after Thursday evening’s event that officials “needed to come clean” to end the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the accident and emergency and maternity units at the hospital.
He said: “Let’s have a proper understanding about what the plans are for Kettering, and then people can make a judgement about whether the plans make sense or not.
“I think local people want somebody who is an advocate for them, and that is what Andy’s showing.
“All he’s asking is let’s just have the plans, let’s understand what these plans are and what the implications are for Kettering.”
Conservative activists have accused Labour of scaremongering, with Health Minister Anna Soubry insisting this week the hospital would not close.
But Mr Miliband said Mr Sawford was right to raise the issue as a key theme of his bid to succeed former Conservative MP Louise Mensch.
Mr Miliband added: “I think Andy would be being negligent in his duty as the candidate and somebody who hopes to be the MP if he wasn’t doing that.”
Mr Sawford, who said the units “must remain” in Kettering, told the Telegraph: “These services like accident and emergency and maternity – the ones they are specifically talking about might go at Kettering – we’ve got to stand up and say that’s not acceptable to people in this area.
“We have got big health needs here, we have got a growing population. Those services must remain at Kettering hospital.”
Mr Miliband also elaborated on his theme of a “One Nation” Labour Party which he first advocated at his party’s annual conference in Manchester earlier in the week.
He said: “It’s about everyone in this country having a stake in the future of the country.
“It’s about a country where prosperity is fairly shared. Protecting local institutions that matter to local people.
“Local people should not be left in the dark about the future of their hospital.”
He also said he could not make many promises on what he would do if he were to become Prime Minister, vowing to “under-promise and over-deliver rather than over-promise and under-deliver”.