LIBERAL Democrat leader Nick Clegg today pledged to give nurses a bigger say over the NHS as his battlebus rolled into Southampton.

On a visit to Southampton General Hospital he said he wanted to protect specialist nurses, accident and emergency, maternity wards and GP services from health cuts “even though money was tight.”

But he hit out the increasing number of mangers and administrators saying they now outnumbered the number of beds, adding “there will be no ring fencing of bureaucracy”.

Mr Clegg was joined by his shadow chancellor Vince Cable and Romsey and Southampton North candidate Sandra Gidley on a tour of a children’s ward.

Inside, he was challenged about how he would fund new cancer treatments.

Craig Phillpot, from Christchurch, Dorset, said the Lib Dem leader gave a ''typical politician's answer'' that he would fund new treatments but would need to find the savings to pay for them.

Mr Phillpot, whose 20-month-old daughter Georgia has acute myeloid leukaemia, said: ''I asked is he going to ensure, under his power, that cancer drugs and treatments that become available are going to be funded because that's critical for advancing the fight against leukaemia.

''He said yes, apart from he has to find where he can get the savings he will need, which is a typical politician's answer.''

Mr Clegg also chatted about rugby with 11-year-old Paul Harrison, from Charmouth, West Dorset.

Paul said he hoped to return to playing second row after treatment for lymphoma.

Mr Clegg said he used to be a flanker in his school days but warned that the game got ''much more brutal'' as children grew.

It was the Lib Dem leader’s second visit to Hampshire on the general election campaign.

He earlier visited a cable factory in Eastleigh to support Lib Dem candidate and home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne.