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Ralf Little: Don’t let the smile in the photo fool you – he’s totally serious about mental health.

If Jeremy Hunt thought he could get the better of Ralf Little with a belated barrage of warmed-over statistics from several years ago, he now knows otherwise.

After waiting more than a week for a reply to his challenge to the Health Secretary, Mr Little wasted no time showing the politician how it’s done.

Here’s what he had to say:

Mr Little’s words raise a couple of issues:

Firstly, it was always going to be impossible to prove that Mr Hunt “knowingly” lied in his Andrew Marr Show interview. The fact remains that the Health Secretary should be fully conversant with his facts before appearing in a television interview and it is not acceptable for him to provide false information. Would he have corrected the record at all if he had not been called out on it by members of the public?

Secondly, the claim is that Mr Hunt told a falsehood when he claimed he was overseeing the biggest expansion in mental health provision in Europe is open to debate. It seems possible to This Writer that Mr Hunt may be correct in his claim – but what good is that to people with mental illnesses if, starting from far behind the other European countries, the Health Secretary robs other areas of healthcare of their funding to actually achieve the biggest expansion in MH provision in the continent… and we end up still lagging behind those other nations?

It would be entirely reprehensible if Mr Hunt tries to win his argument on a technicality and ignores any adverse effects on NHS patients.

The aim of the health service must always be to provide the best possible care for all patients. Mr Hunt must demonstrate that his activities with regard to mental health are not harming other patients, and that the same activities don’t just achieve the “biggest expansion” that he has mentioned, but produce tangible results – a significant improvement in mental health outcomes, not only in the UK but in relation to the other European countries. He set the NHS up against them; he must deliver an NHS that bears comparison with them.

For these reasons, This Writer supports Mr Little’s challenge; I want to see the live TV debate.

I want to see Mr Hunt, supported by his people, trading facts with Mr Little, supported by his people.

And I want to see the debate arbitrated independently – meaning nobody from the BBC Tory-supporting news team.

Make it happen, Mr Hunt. Put up or shut up.


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