CONSERVATIVE ministers were accused of presiding over the “systematic vandalism” of the NHS at an election hustings.

Sarah Church, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate in South Swindon, told the Old Town audience: “If we have five more years under Mr Johnson we can kiss goodbye to what we have retained of the National Health Service and we will see that health bankruptcy that people have to go through in the United States. We have to stop that at all costs.”

Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party candidates debated the state of the health service at the hustings event organised by campaign group Keep Our NHS Public and held at the Devizes Road arts centre.

All the candidates present warned that the NHS could be “on the table” in a post-Brexit deal with the US.

There are fears that the system that allows the UK to blocks drugs from being purchased if they are not deemed to be value for money could be under threat in any future trade deal.

Katie Critchlow, Lib Dem candidate in North Swindon, said: “The best way to avoid those trade talks happening is to stop Brexit.

"As much as we really want to not give in on drug prices, if we’re faced with that situation against the big bully of America we’ll have to give something – and if it’s not drug prices then what is it we’re going to give?”

She said the Lib Dems would increase spending on mental health and introduce a rule that all new policies must be scrutinised for their likely impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

Green Party hopeful in North Swindon Andy Bentley said his party would introduced an NHS Reinstatement Bill to overturn successive governments’ efforts to privatise parts of the health service and set up an internal market. The bill would make sure the NHS “will be there for many generations to come”.

IMH’s bungled attempts to reconfigure GP services in the town provided much of the fire for Labour’s Kate Linnegar, who is fighting the North Swindon seat.

She said: “It is vitally important that we protect the NHS now and we don’t go back to the times when people couldn’t afford to pay for health.”

Labour would increase the NHS budget by 4.3 per cent a year if elected.

All the candidates remarked on the absence of Conservative hopefuls Justin Tomlinson and Robert Buckland.

All the candidates remarked on the absence of Conservative hopefuls Justin Tomlinson and Robert Buckland.

Mr Tomlinson said: “This was a public meeting organised by a Labour campaign group for their supporters.

“The Conservatives are rightly investing record funding into the NHS. £34bn a year extra, opposed time and time again by Labour in Parliament. 

“This includes the £30m to expand our GWH A&E, £15m for a new Radiotherapy Unit and now plans for 50,000 more nurses, 6,000 more GPs and 50m more GP appointments nationally.”

Robert Buckland said: “We are investing in our hospitals such as the £30m for doubling the size of GWH’s A&E.  This is all possible because we have delivered a strong economy to help pay for our NHS.”