GP tells Jeremy Hunt that no one in the NHS will ever vote for him if he becomes prime minister

Greg Evans
Friday 21 June 2019 10:30
news

The Tory leadership contest is now down to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt and it's probably the least compelling set of options this country has been faced with since the last time the Conservative membership chose who their leader should be.

You don't need us to tell you of the many controversies that surround Boris Johnson, but Jeremy Hunt isn't considered to be an angel either, thanks mostly to his six-year run as the health secretary.

Between 2012 and 2018, when Hunt was in office, the NHS saw the slowest period of investment since its inception, which resulted in the organisation not reaching any of its targets on cancer care, hospital appointments and A&E waiting times since 2015.

Austerity measures, including restrictions on pay rises and extended working hours, which were considered to be 'normal', led to Hunt ending up in a long-running dispute with junior doctors who staged a series of walkouts.

This, on top of several other issues, has made Hunt deeply unpopular within the NHS and he was quickly reminded of this during an appearance on LBC Radio this week.

Speaking to Naomi, a GP from Hendon who is a Conservative supporter, Hunt was furiously told that "NHS staff will not vote for you as prime minister" and the "most hated health secretary in memory".

You were the most hated health secretary in my memory. You demoralised and disenfranchised all junior doctors. Many of them have left medicine as a result of your changes.

Directly because of this, there are significantly fewer GPs and people can't get doctors' appointments. NHS staff will not vote for you as prime minister.

I do not want Jeremy Corbyn to be prime minister. I want a Tory prime minister. You on the Tory ticket will lose all of the NHS vote. People just won't vote because of this.

You cannot have someone who is this tainted with this track record because you will not get the NHS vote.

Hunt tried to reason with the criticism that was being thrown at him.

I recognise that I was health secretary when there was a bitter and very divisive strike with the junior doctors and I sincerely wish we didn't have to have that strike.

When I arrived as health secretary, I had to deal with some truly appalling scandals, the scandals in Mid Staffs, Morecambe Bay, Gosport, Southern Health. Scandals were I met patients and patients' families where patients had died truly horrible deaths.

I decided I was going to be the health secretary that listened to the voice of patients.

I had some big battles, but at the end, nearly 3million more patients were using good or outstanding hospitals.

Noami responded to Hunt's answer by saying:

That might be absolutely right and you might believe everything that you have done. The problem is that the battle with the NHS staff, which is the biggest employer in the country and that staff won't vote for you.

We need a Tory government and we need a Tory prime minister but if you are on the ticket, unfortunately, whatever you might say, we have got very bitter staff because of the changes you made. 

The reality is that no one else changed the junior contract to such and extent that their rotas are unbearable, their earnings mean that they can't get on to the property ladder.

Hunt came back again:

The junior doctor's new contract actually put up their salary by 11 per cent, which makes it easier for them to get bigger mortgages and afford homes.

We've ended up with more doctors and nurses and all I would say, as a result of negotiating the extra funding that I did, we're able to train more doctors and nurses and relieve those pressures that you are seeing every day as a GP.

I don't pretend that I've not had to fight big battles but I think that the people of this country want someone who will do the right thing and make difficult decisions and goodness me, with Brexit we've got some difficult decisions to make and I want to get on and solve them.

You can watch the entire conversation in the video below.

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HT LBC

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