03/10/2012 16:42 BST | Updated 03/10/2012 16:43 BST

Jeremy Hunt Is The 'Invisible Man', Says Andy Burnham


Jeremy Hunt is the "invisible man", shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has joked.

Speaking to the Labour Party conference in Manchester on Wednesday, Burnham criticized the newly promoted health secretary for his media silence since securing the job in early September.

Burnham said: "It's hard to be a shadow when you're up against the Invisible Man."

"A month in the job but not a word about thousands of nursing jobs lost. Not one word about crude rationing, older people left without essential treatment.

He added to cheers from the conference hall: "Not a word about moves in the South West to break national pay."

Burnham's criticism of Hunt has been echoed by his colleagues in the shadow health team who have been trying to get the #HuntJeremy Twitter hashtag going.

Many were surprised when David Cameron decided to promote Jeremy Hunt to health secretary in his recent cabinet reshuffle, given he nearly had to quit the government over his handling of Rupert Murdoch's bid for BSkyB while culture secretary.

Speaking to the Labour conference today, Burnham said the government was engaged in the "reckless" sell-off of NHS services, accusing it of starting the "the single biggest act of privatisation ever seen in the NHS".

"It is a fast-track to fragmentation. This is being really rammed through, particularly given all the other change that is destabilising the NHS at the moment, the financial pressure it is facing," he said.

"The NHS is reaching a fork in the road and I believe that a central question at the next election will be the choice of direction, which path does it take."