Most NHS bosses who Jeremy Hunt said support imposing his new contract say they actually don't

14 of 20 names cited by Mr Hunt has now distanced themselves from him

Most of the NHS bosses who Jeremy Hunt claimed supported his decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors have said they do not actually support the decision.

The Health Secretary produced a letter apparently signed by 20 NHS chief executives who he said backed his plan to impose the new deal without further negotiations.

Trade publication the Health Service Journal has however contacted the chief executives and found that at least 14 denied supporting the letter.

The magazine says Mr Hunt gave the bosses a deadline of just four hours to respond to his request for support.

Though the named executives support the proposed contract, most how now have distanced themselves from the forced imposition.

“I was very unhappy to see my name added to an endorsement of the final offer for NHS Employers. As whether it was ‘fair and reasonable’ was exactly what I'd been asked,” Claire Murdoch, CEO of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust told the magazine.

“The Guardian subsequently have me as supporting the imposition. I have told NHS Employers to remove my name and they have done so.”

The British Medical Association warned yesterday that the contract had alienated an entire generation of doctors, while the Royal College of GPs said it would trash doctors’ morale and make it harder to recruit enough medics for the NHS.

Mr Hunt himself has launched an inquiry into junior doctor morale, but has refused to meet junior doctors head on for a debate. 

The Health Secretary pulled out of a planned drinks and canapés event this evening where he was set to be the star attraction – amid fears doctors could turn up and quiz him.

NHS executives who denied support Mr Hunt’s decision include Miles Scott, chief executive of St George’s Trust, Andrew Foster, of Wrightington, Wigan, and Weight NHS Foundation Trust, ad David Sloman, of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

Others are Professor Dr Stephen Dunn, of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, David Loughton of Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Joe Harrison of Milton Keynes NHS Foundation Trust, and Sir Andrew Cash of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

More still were Claire Murdoch of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Peter Homa, of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Peter Miller of Leicestershire Partnerships NHS Trust and Susan Acott, chief executive of Dartford and Gravesham Trust.

The Government says the new contract will improve patient care at the weekends but junior doctors say it will incentivise unsafe staffing rosters and put patient care at risk.

The British Medical Association, which has been leading negotiations on behalf of junior doctors, said it would look at all options available to it in order to prevent the contract from being implemented.

Junior doctors have staged two days of strike action as part of negotiations; those who voted were 98 per cent in favour of taking action.