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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 21:16 GMT 22:16 UK
PM promises hospital announcement
The existing Pembury Hospital
The existing Pembury Hospital in west Kent is set to be replaced
The prime minister has promised an announcement over a new hospital for west Kent will be made shortly.

Tony Blair was speaking in response to a Commons question from the Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells, Greg Clark, about the long-awaited 300m hospital in Pembury.

The MP has expressed concern at a delay in announcing the preferred bidder for the scheme and asked if there was a chance the hospital could be approved.

Mr Blair replied that an appraisal for a new site had been completed.

The hospital at Pembury, near Tunbridge Wells, will replace both the existing Pembury and Kent and Sussex hospitals.

I am determined to keep up the pressure for the new hospital at the very highest level
Greg Clark, Tunbridge Wells MP

Speaking after the exchange in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Clark said he had felt it necessary to ask "a serious question that is on the minds of everyone in west Kent".

"To my surprise, I got a serious answer," he added.

However, the MP said that although the prime minister's reply was "helpful", he had not offered a guarantee that the new hospital would definitely go ahead.

"The whole community needs to keep fighting for the hospital we deserve. I raised the issue... because I am determined to keep up the pressure for the new hospital at the very highest level," said Mr Clark.

"I will continue to do so until I see building work actually begin," he said.

Mr Clark added that the prime minister had said he would be in touch with him shortly.

"I will await with interest what he has to say, and will, of course, keep the local community fully informed."


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