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People Want To Know Where Jeremy Hunt Is During The Doctors' Strike

He's nowhere to be seen. UPDATE: He has popped up on BBC Radio 4.

Originally posted on
Updated on

Junior doctors have started their 24-hour strike across England – but health secretary Jeremy Hunt is nowhere to be seen.

The cabinet minister was avoiding TV and radio bids on the eve of the strike and on Tuesday morning, despite mounting calls for him to answer questions.

Instead it was left to senior officials from NHS England to speak to the media. Hunt last spoke on the subject in the House of Commons last Tuesday.

Here he is leaving his house this morning. He was in a bit of a rush, by the looks of things.

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It was up to Norman Williams, Hunt's senior clinical adviser, to answer questions. Here he is on Sky News being asked why Hunt was avoiding the media.

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Sky News reporter Darren McCaffey asked: "Do you feel it's good that doctors on the eve of the national strike, and indeed the people who use the NHS, aren't able to hear from the secretary..."

But he was interrupted by Hunt's special adviser who said: "Hang on a second, we're not doing this nonsense... We agreed a series of questions."

A fair few people weren't impressed with Hunt's no-show.

Jeremy Hunt's silence today speaks volumes. He's the f***ing Heath Minister in a f***ng DEMOCRACY! We're MEANT to hold him to account! Worm!

Jeremy Hunt has gone into hiding for the duration of the #JuniorDoctorsStrike. Typical of him. When leadership is required, Jeremy hides.

On first day of junior doctors' strike shouldn't @Jeremy_Hunt be putting government's case ? why the silence ? #NHS

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A Department of Health source defended Hunt's decision to stay out of the limelight.

They told BuzzFeed News: "He's been up so many times on the record and his position hasn't changed. There's no need to get up and reiterate that.

"Today is about the strike and making sure patients are kept safe. That's why NHS England are out there with operational updates. Clearly we'll keep the situation under review, we're not ruling anything out."

In November he didn't turn up to a Commons "urgent question" on the matter. It was up to health minister Alistair Burt to face MPs instead.

UPDATE

Hunt has appeared on BBC Radio 4's World At One. He claimed that "nearly 40% of junior doctors" had turned up to work.

"This is a wholly unnecessary dispute," he said. "We want all NHS patients to have the confidence that they will get the same high-quality care every day of the week."

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at emily.ashton@buzzfeed.com.

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