Doctors have asked a Whitehall watchdog to investigate Jeremy Hunt’s claim that 11,000 patients a year die after being admitted to hospital at the weekend because too few medics are on duty.
Two doctors, who represent around 3,380 other doctors, have complained to the Cabinet Office about Hunt’s claim, which he is using to justify both imposing a new contract on junior doctors and turning the NHS into a seven-day service.
Their move comes as acute medical doctors, who care for some of the sickest patients in hospital, claim that forcing NHS England’s 53,000 junior doctors to accept inferior terms and conditions would have a catastrophic effect on the NHS by producing the biggest recruitment crisis the service has ever encountered.
In their complaint, Dr Antonio de Marvao and Dr Palak J Trivedi, both academic clinical lecturers, claim the health secretary has breached the ministerial code of conduct by misleading MPs and misrepresenting official statistics through his allegedly misleading use of the 11,000 figure, about which he has been “not accurate or truthful”. Their letter is co-signed by thousands of fellow doctors and medical students.
The statistic has become an important – though disputed – piece of evidence because Hunt has been using it in the House of Commons, interviews and Department of Health responses to media inquiries about the junior doctors dispute.
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