Watford's Conservative parliamentary candidate says his priority for the town is the NHS.

Dean Russell says he wanted Health Secretary Matt Hancock to be the first cabinet minister to visit Watford during his election campaign - and Mr Hancock duly arrived at Watford General Hospital back in November.

Mr Hancock's visit came shortly after the government announced West Herts Hospitals Trust, which includes hospitals in Watford, St Albans, and Hemel Hempstead, would receive a £400 million investment.

Mr Russell, who is hoping to become Watford's MP, said: "The visit of the Health Secretary, which came just weeks after a visit from the Prime Minister, was an excellent opportunity to see the invaluable work that the incredible staff do every day in outdated facilities.

"They will now be able to work in conditions that are fit for the 21st century and able to meet increasing and changing demand.

"I am so proud that my party has stewarded the NHS for most of its years since it was created. As someone who has had their happiest and indeed saddest moments at NHS hospitals, I, like everyone else, know its importance. It is this country’s greatest asset.

"The NHS will never be for sale and any attempts to suggest otherwise are desperate attempts to scaremonger.

"That’s why if elected, the Conservatives will invest a further £33.9 billion by 2024, ensure 50 million more GP appointments and 50,000 more nurses. Alongside this, one million NHS staff will get a pay rise."

Mr Hancock described the trust's plans for its hospitals as "impressive", with most of the money being poured into Watford.

He said: "I've been through the plans with the leaders of the trust and they are very impressive and they are going to deliver a 21st century hospital here in Watford.

"I've seen the Victorian building and falling down 1960s buildings. The hospital needs a complete rebuild.

"We are making short term improvements too. You can see diggers in the ground because we are putting in a new scanner which will help spot diseases earlier and save people's lives."

The trust will not have to pay back the full £400 million but will have to pay back an as yet unconfirmed amount.

Don Richards, chief finance officer at the trust, explained: "The £400m for our estate redevelopment is not a free gift, it is equivalent to an equity investment in the trust, providing the cash to spend on the new development.

"In the same way that when equity investors provide cash to a company they anticipate a dividend on that investment when the company makes sufficient profits, the trust will have to pay a dividend to the government, if we have sufficient assets to do so.

"This dividend is based on the investment provided. We won’t be asked to repay the principal sum. This dividend forms part of the total extra capital charges of c £20m arising because of the redevelopment."