Jeremy Hunt admits being Health Secretary is likely to be his 'last big job in politics'

'Health Secretaries are never popular', Mr Hunt said

Ashley Cowburn
Wednesday 27 April 2016 09:10
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Jeremy Hunt says junior doctors' contract is likely to be his 'last big job in politics'

Jeremy Hunt has said that being Health Secretary is likely to be his “last big job in politics”, as hospitals brace for the first Accident and Emergency walkout in the NHS’s 68-year history.

The admission comes as junior doctors begin their strike, which will run from 8am to 5pm on both Tuesday and Wednesday. A&E departments and maternity units will be staffed by senior consultants stepping in for their colleagues.

A poll by Ipsos MORI, conducted for BBC News, found 57 per cent of adults in England support the strike, which has resulted in the cancellation of 125,000 appointments. However, support for this round of strike action is slightly lower than for previous strikes, when emergency care was not affected.

“Do you ever look in the mirror and think I am now the problem?” Mr Hunt was asked by BBC Radio 4 presenter Nick Robinson.

The Health Secretary responded: “This is likely to be my last big job in politics and the one thing that will keep me awake is if I didn’t do the right thing to help make the NHS one of the safest, highest quality health care systems in the world.

“Health Secretaries are never popular,” he added. “You’re never going to win a contest for being the most liked person when you do this job but what history judges is did you take the tough and difficult decisions that enabled the NHS to deliver high quality care for patients.”

“These changes are never easy but the question is are you going to take the difficult decisions that mean we have better care for patients – deliver manifesto commitments and that is what I am absolutely determined to do."

In a separate interview the Health Secretary, speaking on BBC Breakfast, accused union leaders of trying to "blackmail" the Government with strike action. He said he could only call a halt to the action "by abandoning a manifesto promise that the British people voted on" at last year's general election.

He added: "It was the first page of our manifesto that we'd have a seven-day NHS.

"I don't think any union has the right to blackmail the Government, to force the Government to abandon a manifesto promise that the British people have voted on."

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