Jeremy Corbyn has laid into Theresa May for caving in to her ‘sinking ship captain’ Health Secretary and allowing him to keep his job.
Jeremy Hunt told the Prime Minister on Monday that “a captain does not abandon his ship” and it would be “dishonourable” for him to go when she threatened to move him during her reshuffle this week, HuffPost UK learned.
“We know the Prime Minister recognises there’s a crisis in our NHS because she wanted to sack the health secretary last week, but was too weak to do it,” he said.
Quoting our exclusive to May during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, the Labour leader told her: “The Health Secretary during his occupation of her office to keep his job said he won’t abandon the ship.
“Isn’t that an admission that under his captaincy the ship is indeed sinking.”
Corbyn also ripped into the Government for allowing private companies to expand into the NHS while reports continue to emerge of ambulance delays, staff shortages and cancelled operations this winter.
“The Prime Minister needs to understand that it’s her policies that are pushing our NHS into crisis,” Corbyn said.
“Tax cuts for the super rich and big business are paid for [...] by longer waiting lists, ambulance delays, staff shortages and cuts to social care.
“Creeping privatisation is dragging our NHS down.”
Hunt, in fact, emerged from Number 10 having secured a promotion. May agreed to add social care to his health brief, despite days of briefings to journalists that the Health Secretary would be given a different portfolio altogether.
May and her Health Secretary were forced to apologise after thousands of operations were cancelled amid a shortage of hospital beds, though May told the Andrew Marr Show this was “part of the plan” to deal with pressures.
Some hospitals have also seen a return to mixed sex wards and 16,900 people being stuck in ambulances waiting to get into an A&E unit in the week from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve.
The PM declined to address the issue of Hunt’s role during PMQs but insisted the Government was putting more money into the health service, including an additional £350m over the winter.
She said: “This Government is putting more money into the NHS. We see more doctors in our NHS, more nurses in our NHS, more operations taking place in our NHS, more people being treated in A&E in our NHS, but we can only do that if we have a strong economy.”