Hunt admits he thought NHS 'needed more resources' while he was Health Secretary

21 July 2022, 13:42 | Updated: 21 July 2022, 13:44

By Tim Dodd

Jeremy Hunt has said that when he was Health Secretary he "had to follow collective responsibility" but "privately" thought the NHS needed more resources, doctors, nurses, and midwives.

In August 2016, a new junior doctors contract came into force in the NHS under Jeremy Hunt. The terms of the contract received widespread condemnation from medics, and sparked the junior doctor strikes led by the British Medical Association.

Guaranteed pay increases linked to the time-in-the-job were replaced by a scheme that linked pay to progression through training stages and therefore caused pay to increase at a slower rate.

Jeremy Hunt claimed that plans to rota-in more doctors on weekends was a move to counteract data which showed a patient was 15% more likely to die if admitted to hospital on a Sunday as opposed to a Wednesday.

The new contract changed what constituted 'unsociable hours' and meant that junior doctors no longer received extra pay for working shifts that were previously classed as unsociable, such as those on the weekend.

Junior doctors claimed that Jeremy Hunt was trying to implement a seven-day NHS whilst only paying them for a five-day service.

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Mr Hunt said: "When I was Health Secretary, I had to follow collective responsibility but privately I did think the NHS needed more resources and I did think we needed to be training more doctors, nurses, and midwives.

"And I did actually succeed in increasing the number of midwives we trained by a quarter, but of course it takes three years to train a midwife so you don't see the impact of that immediately."

Mr Hunt's comments were in response to a caller who told him: "I was working all the way through the time you were Health Secretary and it is when things started going wrong."

"We were well managed to the point of.. we learnt about quorums, and quangos, and focus groups and all the boxes were ticked. It looked fantastic," she continued.

"On the ground, we were killing ourselves struggling to provide patient care."