Jeremy Hunt will not apologise for misleading MPs over the number of mental health workers in the NHS.
The health secretary came under fire for claiming in the Commons that there were 30,000 more people working in mental health today than when Labour left office.
But when questioned by Channel 4′s FactCheck, the Department of Health admitted the figure included all professionally qualified clinical NHS staff in England, not just mental health workers.
The real increase is just 692 people - and the number of mental health nurses has in fact fallen by 5,000 since 2010.
A spokesman told Channel 4 that Hansard, Parliament’s official record, had been corrected but Hunt would not be making an apology.
Shadow mental health minister Barbara Keeley said the error showed the government was failing to take the issue seriously.
“The Tory government claim to want to make mental health a priority, but Jeremy Hunt doesn’t even know how many mental health staff are working in the NHS,” she added.
“Safe staffing was an issue raised by the CQC’s new State of Care report. Labour will invest more in mental health so that all services are staffed safely.”
Hunt made the initial claim on World Mental Health Day during a health questions session, in response to a query from Conservative backbencher Stephen McPartland on what steps had been taken to increase the size of the mental health workforce.
The secretary of state replied: “Our mental health workforce has increased by 30,000 since 2010, and another 21,000 posts are planned.”