Labour's Heidi Alexander has asked Jeremy Hunt to correct a statement on his imposition of the new Junior Doctors' contract, after it was revealed that more than a dozen NHS bosses had not in fact given him their support for the move.
The Shadow Health Secretary wrote: "It is now clear that over half of the senior NHS leaders you referred to in your statement do not support your decision to impose a new contract."
Hunt had used the signatures of 20 NHS chief executives on the letter as justification for his unilateral move to impose new terms on junior medics.
Heidi Alexander opposite Jeremy Hunt in the Commons
Alexander writes in her letter to Hunt: "I am concerned that in making this claim you may have inadvertently misled the House."
Heidi Alexander's letter in full
Yesterday in your statement on the junior doctor contract you said:
“Along with other senior NHS leaders… Sir David Dalton has asked me to end the uncertainty for the service by proceeding with the introduction of a new contract.”
It is now clear that over half of the senior NHS leaders you referred to in your statement do not support your decision to impose a new contract.
I am concerned that in making this claim you may have inadvertently misled the House.
You will know that paragraph 1.2c of the Ministerial Code states:
“It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity. Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.”
I would be grateful if you would confirm that you will return to the House at the next available opportunity to correct the record.
Fourteen chief executives of NHS trusts across England say they do not support the imposition, despite their names being attached to a letter advising the government to "do whatever it deems necessary to end uncertainty".
They say that while they support the government's offer to junior doctors, they do not agree with it being forced on medics, The Health Service Journal reported.
The letter was used by Hunt to justify his decision to proceed with the imposition of the contract, despite negotiations between the NHS Employers group and medics having broken down.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hunt said: "He (Sir David) has asked me to end the uncertainty for the service by proceeding with the introduction of a new contract that he and his colleagues consider both safer for patients and fair and reasonable for junior doctors. I have therefore today decided to do that."
However, colleagues of Dalton have now clarified their positions - with at least 12 challenging the suggestion they supported Hunt's unilateral move, alongside two others who have asked for their names to be removed.
1. Miles Scott, CEO St George's Trust
2. Andrew Foster, CEO Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh NHS Foundation Trust
3. David Sloman, CEO Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
4. Prof Dr Stephen Dunn, CEO West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
5. David Loughton, CEO Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust
6. Joe Harrison, CEO Milton Keynes NHS Foundation Trust
7. Sir Andrew Cash, CEO Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
8. Claire Murdoch, CEO Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
9. Peter Homa, CEO Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
10. Peter Miller, CEO Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust
11. Susan Acott, CEO Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust
12. Matthew Kershaw, East Kent Hospitals University NHS FT
13. James Scott, CEO Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust
Chief executives of other trusts tried to distance themselves from the letter, without explicitly saying whether they were opposed to Hunt's imposition or not.
14. Robert Woolley, CEO University Hospitals Bristol
In addition, another CEO, Sonia Swart, of Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust joined her colleague Claire Murdoch in demanding her name be removed from the letter.
The Department of Health referred HuffPost UK to NHS Employers on Thursday, but it has yet to respond to a request for comment.