Prime Minister David Cameron was confronted about the state of local NHS services when he campaigned with London mayor Boris Johnson in a market ahead of the Newark by-election.
Mr Cameron and Mr Johnson mingled with shoppers and market traders in the centre of the Nottinghamshire town where the by-election is due on June 5.
Local resident Brian Boby asked the Prime Minister: “What have you done towards helping the hospital and everything closing in Newark?”
Mr Cameron said: “What we’re doing is that we’re keeping the hospital in Newark. There’s a lot more we can do, particularly with the ambulance service, because I know the ambulance service hasn’t been good enough in recent years.”
But Mr Boby said: “You’re running the hospital down, you’re running the ambulance service down, we’ve got a police station with no policemen – this is only time we’ve seen any policemen, today. You’ve done nothing for Newark.”
The Prime Minister said: “We are making sure that the hospital continues in Newark. We’re putting money into the health service. We’ve got more doctors and more nurses here in the East Midlands than when I became Prime Minister.
“But I know we want to do more on the ambulance service particularly, and that’s one of the things Robert (Jenrick, the Tory candidate) and I have been talking about today.”
The two Tories spent about 30 minutes chatting with the public in the sunshine, posing for selfies and, in the case of Mr Johnson, handing out leaflets.
Mr Cameron bought Mr Johnson a £1 piece of Rocky Road from Les Flowerdew’s bakery stall, which the mayor munched on as he teased the Prime Minister about his cooking skills.
“The Prime Minister bakes his own bread,” Mr Johnson said.
Mr Cameron insisted on buying the crunchy treat, saying: “Boris, that’s a gift. Rocky Road. You know you want it.”
Mr Johnson said: “Why don’t you share some of your baking secrets.”
Both men agreed the Rocky Road was excellent.
But as Mr Cameron munched on his own piece of chocolate and marshmallow he was forced to defend the 20 per cent VAT rate by a more serious-minded member of the public who pressed him on whether it would be scrapped if he won the General Election.
The Prime Minister and the mayor later headed to Ealing, west London, to rally party activists.