UK
09/02/2016 11:58 GMT | Updated 09/02/2016 12:59 GMT

Jeremy Hunt Called Out Over Junior Doctors' Weekend Hours By Medic In 'Daily Telegraph' Letter

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Jeremy Hunt is not in many NHS workers' good books.

His fight with junior doctors over pay and changes to what constitutes working 'social hours' is coming to a head this week as medics prepare to stage a second 24-hour strike.

But one doctor has indulged in a bit of light-hearted joshing to show up the health secretary's own commitment to working weekends in South West Surrey, at least by holding surgeries with any number of his 75,000 constituents.

A letter in today's 'Telegraph', penned by Dr Malcolm Parsloe, mocked the MP's "waiting times".

"SIR - On Friday I rang the constituency office of Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, for a surgery appointment," the Hastings practitioner wrote.

"The receptionist said none were available for a month.

"I asked if there were any weekend surgeries but was told he only does Friday".

It comes after more than 21,000 medics and supporters of striking junior doctors called for Hunt to "lead by example" and work weekends too.

The health secretary has defended his government's push to reform how rostering and staffing levels at weekends by saying it will create a "truly seven-day NHS", one of the Conservatives' hallmark manifesto promises.

He faces opposition from the British Medical Association, who have 37,000 junior doctor members and are calling a second 24-strike over changes to how their pay is calculated.

The MP maintains the doctors' union has been "irresponsible" for "spreading misinformation" about how changes will affect workers.

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"It's incredibly disappointing, the totally irresponsible way the BMA has behaved in refusing to sit down and talk about how we can improve patient care and spreading misinformation," he told the 'Andrew Marr' programme on Sunday.

"One of the reasons for that anger is they were told by the BMA their pay was going to be cut, it isn't. They were told they were going to have to work longer hours, they aren't...

"If you're told by your union that the health secretary wants to do these awful things, of course you're going to feel devalued."