Jeremy Hunt has once again avoided answering an urgent question in Parliament, the second time he has done so in as many months.
Today’s question on junior contracts came just over 24 hours after junior doctors overwhelmingly voted for industrial action.
Whilst the first ever vote for strike action by Britain’s doctors might sound like a big deal to most people, Jeremy Hunt decided against attending today’s debate on it. It was left to junior minister Alistair Burt to answer the questions out to him by Heidi Alexander, the Shadow Health Secretary, and other MPs.
Mr Hunt avoided a question on NHS finances on the 12th October 2015, and here’s what I wrote then:
“Urgent questions are the parliamentary equivalent of a heart attack. They are serious, don’t happen that often and are granted only if there’s no other way of asking for the information you want.“
Given that Hunt is continuing to say he’s open to negotiations, one would expect him to take the chance to discuss the contracts in Parliament. Mind you, you’d also expect him to take up the offer of fresh contract talks.
In fairness to him, there was the small matter of the worst ever NHS financial crisis to deal with today. However if his excuse is that he’s got too many crises to deal with at once then there will be very little sympathy for him in the world.
There has long been a feeling amongst junior doctors that Jeremy Hunt is either incompetent at his job or deliberately messing things up. This feeling is not helped by the fact he appears to do his best to avoid any kind of honest debate.
If he continues to avoid debate over important issues, you can only help but wonder before this total lack of trust starts to carry over to his political masters.
NB: The full debate can be viewed here. Scroll down on the right-hand side to 11:00 to ‘Urgent Question – Junior Doctor Contract’.