back to top

Doctors Want PM To "Answer The Question" After NHS Debate Becomes "Your Mum" Row

#AnswerTheQuestionDave calls for David Cameron to give a proper reply to a question about cuts to NHS services that he failed to answer at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.

Posted on

Junior doctors are calling on David Cameron to answer questions about NHS cuts after a debate on the issue at Wednesday's Prime Minister’s Questions descended into a "your mum" row.

When the issue of cuts to community services in Cameron's constituency of Oxfordshire was raised, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked if the prime minister would be "writing another letter to himself, asking on behalf of his constituents asking for the health secretary to intervene and support his local NHS?"

One Labour MP shouted, "Ask your mother!", referring to the fact that Mary, Cameron's mother, recently signed a petition against plans to close children's centres in Oxfordshire.

"Ask my mother?" the prime minister retorted. "I think I know what my mother would say – she'd look across the despatch box and say, 'Put on a proper suit, do up your tie, and sing the national anthem.'"

Junior doctors are concerned that as a result of the suit jibes Cameron didn't respond to Corbyn's question, and are now calling on him to do so using the hashtag #AnswerTheQuestionDave.

Now we all know that's not a mature answer to the question asked is it @DavidCameron_MP #answerthequestiondave

Many have pointed out that they too tend to go without a tie or a sharp suit...

@David_Cameron no suit, no tie. Just doing my job. Well. #answerthequestiondave #cams7dayscam #dimposition

...but would still like answers to questions about radical changes in the NHS.

No smart suit. How exactly do ties help us separate sound science from spin & sexed-up stats? #answerthequestiondave

They particularly want clarification on data regarding weekend deaths that health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been accused of misrepresenting.

Doctors don't wear ties Dave, but we do know about the ethics of research #answerthequestiondave

Research saying that 11,000 "excess deaths" happen every year due to higher mortality rates among people admitted to hospital at the weekend has been used by Hunt to justify imposing a controversial new junior doctors contract.

Prior to Wednesday's PMQs, the BBC revealed that Hunt's original claim that the deaths could be attributed to lack of junior doctors at weekends had been made on the basis of unpublished and unverified data.

Following its publication, the study's author Nick Freemantle warned: "It is not possible to ascertain the extent to which these excess deaths may be preventable; to assume that they are avoidable would be rash and misleading."

Some doctors are suggesting that poking fun at Corbyn's suit allowed Cameron to sidestep a losing argument.

Childish behaviour from @David_Cameron at #PMQs if you resort to attacking appearances you've lost the argument #ANSWERTHEQUESTIONDAVE

"I think when you are losing an argument, you resort to personal insult," one senior Labour source told the BBC. "When you are not able to answer questions on the NHS, you resort to silly insults. It's got no place in politics."

Corbyn himself echoed this sentiment with a fire subtweet following the debate. 🔥

“If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes & shoddy furniture let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas & shoddy philosophies" Einstein #pmqs

The chair of the British Medical Association's junior doctors committee, Dr Johann Malawana, welcomed his colleagues' call for answers from Cameron.

Turns out professionals prefer if you #answerthequestiondave rather than make personal jibes. #cams7dayscam

"We would like to see the prime minister address the concerns of junior doctors and ultimately ensure the delivery of a fair, safe NHS for our current generation and the next," Malawana told BuzzFeed News.

"Ultimately junior doctors in this country want a fair contract. Our concerns have been failed to be addressed by the department of health and we can only assume this is part of a wider government policy."

Laura Silver is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Laura Silver at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.