A drinks and canapés evening featuring Jeremy Hunt has been cancelled after reports junior doctors might attend and ask him questions about their new contract.
The Health Secretary had been due to mingle with Tory activists on Friday night over nibbles and wine at a party fundraiser, until the event’s open invitation began to circulate on social media.
Some junior doctors and their supporters, who say Mr Hunt has refused to speak to them directly, said it would be worthwhile buying tickets to the evening and engaging him in debate about his new policy.
After the invitation began circulating Fareham Conservatives, who organised the event, abruptly posted a message on their website announcing its cancellation.
A local party staffer confirmed to the Independent that the fundraiser had indeed been cancelled.
Asked why the event was cancelled, the staffer said: “I’ve got no comment on that”.
Asked specifically whether it was cancelled because junior doctors had decided to come, the member of staff said: “I can’t say.”
It is not clear how many, if any, junior doctors had been in touch to purchase tickets to the £15 gathering.
Mr Hunt announced on Thursday that he would unilaterally impose a new employment contract on NHS junior doctors without their consent – but doctors have accused him of refusing to face their arguments directly.
A video emerged this week showing Mr Hunt ignoring and walking away from a junior doctor asking him questions about the new policy.
The King’s College registrar could be seen walking briskly after the Health Secretary in the halls of a television studio in central London.
Interviewed by Sky News afterwards, Dr Dagan Lonsdale said Mr Hunt was "too scared to come and talk to junior doctors".
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.
Fareham Conservatives said they would provide a further statement on the event when one was available.
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