Tag Archives: Ralf Little

Factchecker challenges Jeremy Hunt to prove NHS claims after sources can’t be found

Jeremy Hunt and Ralf Little [Composite: BBC].

Are we all still interested in this debate?

Or are we all bored of it now? After all – there are a lot of new developments elsewhere that we could be discussing, right?

Only kidding – with the NHS Winter Crisis in full swing, this is more topical than ever.

How sad for Jeremy Hunt that this is current information, and he can’t claim that the National Archive has <ahem> lost it.

And in light of Mr Hunt’s – and the Conservative Government’s – unreasonable failure to fund the NHS properly (they’d rather give tax breaks to people who are appallingly rich), it is hugely informative that the Health Secretary’s figures were not adequately sourced.

Ralf Little – the initiator of the debate – is drawing the obvious conclusions, as the following shows:

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/952230263148466183

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/952236422685224960

The Conservative Government has come badly unstuck recently, having been exposed in a series of lies by social media commenters.

Any attempt by Mr Hunt to evade these issues or mislead the public will be spotted. He needs to come clean – sooner, rather than later.

What does he have to say for himself?

In November last year, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, and the actor, Ralf Little, had a heated debate on Twitter about the state of mental health provision in the UK.

During the exchange, both sides invited factcheckers to assess their claims.

In December we published a series of articles that looked at the individual claims being made by both sides… you can read and decide for yourself.

What we can say for sure is that we found examples in the debate where we couldn’t find the source of the figures being used. The people responsible for these missing sources couldn’t tell us where to find the information.

We don’t think that’s good enough.

Last year the Chief Executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens, told a committee of MPs that overall spending on mental health had gone up. Mr Hunt and the Prime Minister have since repeated this. But neither NHS England nor the Department of Health were able to provide us with the source of those figures.

Mr Hunt made comments about the roll-out of crisis care in Accident and Emergency Departments, known as liaison services. When we looked into the figures, we discovered that they hadn’t been published – this is against the principle of equal access set out in The Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

The Health Secretary made a claim on Twitter about the increase in the number of staff working in mental health trusts. We found that although the figures quoted are accurate, the way that the numbers were selected and presented was confusing and misleading.

Source: After the fact – Jeremy Hunt vs Ralf Little – Full Fact


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Fact-checkers get involved in Ralf Little – Jeremy Hunt debate, and it goes badly for Hunt

Jeremy Hunt and Ralf Little [Composite: BBC].

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/943896376349310977

No, Jeremy Hunt doesn’t:

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt still said on TV: “What has actually happened on my watch is the biggest expansion of mental health provision in Europe” when challenged on everything from lack of nurses to lack of beds by Andrew Marr.

Mr Hunt can’t have known whether that was true or not. Neither the Department of Health nor NHS England publish records of how much has been spent on mental health in the past. We still don’t actually know how much is being spent in total on mental health in the NHS right now.

If you take the number of staff who specialise in mental health, the number of nurses is down by 5,000, and the number of fully-trained doctors in psychiatry and psychotherapy is down by 105.

If you include junior doctors who are still training for their specialism the number has gone up slightly since 2010, having fallen in between. So maybe we are starting to see more doctors entering this field.

If you take the number of staff working in a set of mental health trusts, as Mr Hunt did, it’s up by over 4,000. But some of those aren’t new people. Some are people who were already there when the trust they worked for got reclassified as a mental health trust. If you break the figure down, there are fewer nurses and slightly fewer doctors.  A big increase in ‘scientific, therapeutic and technical staff’ is what makes the overall figure go up.

Mr Hunt’s claims on spending talked about spending planned in future years as if it had already happened, overstated the value of the spending that has happened by ignoring inflation, and used partial figures. There are no complete figures published.

“We’ve put a billion pounds extra of resources into mental health”. Not yet: the government’s mental health plan says that mental health services will benefit from additional investment of £1bn per year by 2020/21. If he had said “We’ve committed to putting a billion pounds extra into mental health”, that would have been correct.

Mr Hunt also said “Over half a billion pounds more” was being spent now compared to last year. That ends up being closer to a third of a billion once you take inflation into account.

We don’t know what’s happened to the total amount spent on mental health by the NHS. The figures we do have which Mr Hunt quoted relate only to spending done by the groups who commission hospital and other care in local areas. They don’t include spending done directly by NHS England which pays for GPs themselves and some specialist mental health services.

The last point is a matter of judgement. If a government increases spending on something, but still isn’t spending enough not everyone would accept that the government is expanding that thing.

There is no complete data on what has happened to mental health spending in recent years so we can’t say what the picture of spending on mental looks like under this government or as Mr Hunt put it, on his watch.

But we do know that the backdrop of the new plan is concern about lack of spending on mental health during that time. Even the government’s own Mental Health Taskforce talked of “chronic underinvestment in mental health care across the NHS in recent years”.

The government wants to treat a million more people a year by 2021. It says it’s on its way with 1,400 more people a day using mental health services than in 2010/11. NHS Digital, the body responsible for collecting the figures, told us in January that the figures can’t be compared to find an exact trend in this way, and that although they think more people are using mental health services, they’re not sure and they don’t know how many.

Mr Hunt pointed to some specific areas where he says things are clearly getting better, on talking therapies and A&E provision for mental health.

The data we have suggests there are thousands more talking therapists than there used to be, although in keeping with the mess of mental health statistics we’ve got used to, there’s no one or comprehensive figure for people providing talking therapies.

A&E crisis services are also being strengthened with more hospitals offering higher standard services. There’s still a way to go to meet the government’s goals for 2020/21 but Mr Hunt’s claim of “significant improvements” is backed up by the data.

That said, on A&E Mr Hunt is quoting unpublished statistics, so Mr Little had no chance of checking that himself, and nor did anyone else. Ministers should not be asking the public to take their word for it on something so important.

Mr Hunt is counting his chickens before they’ve hatched. “We’ve put a billion pounds extra of resources into the NHS” isn’t something that has happened yet, and nor have many of the improvements it’s meant to pay for. But it is something that the government has publicly committed to making happen. That plan is public, and it has support from mental health experts and charities.

The reality right now is hard to know but probably at best much more mixed.

The mental health data we have is poor and limited. Despite years of politicians of different parties emphasising the importance of mental health, it turns out that no one really knows what they are talking about. The government’s own plan talked about a ‘black hole’ of data, which is only beginning to be tackled.

Mr Hunt was asking the impossible of Mr Little when he invited him to prove him wrong. The invitation was in effect an empty one: our factchecking proves how inadequate mental health data is and how much easier it is to make claims than to painstakingly back them up.

Source: Mental Health in England: Jeremy Hunt vs Ralf Little – Full Fact


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Jeremy Hunt is playing with words when he could be having an adult discussion about healthcare, says Ralf Little

Ralf Little was talking about his dialogue with Jeremy Hunt in an interview conducated by James O’Brien on LBC.

Actor – and former medical student – Ralf Little appeared on radio to repeat his appeal for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to take part in a live-broadcast debate with him about the state of the NHS.

Mr Hunt had previously challenged Mr Little, on Twitter, to prove his claim that the Health Secretary had “knowingly” lied to the public using inaccurate statistics, in an interview on The Andrew Marr Show.

Talking with James O’Brien on LBC, Mr Little said: “In hindsight that was probably a regrettable choice of words.”

But he said he still wanted to debate the facts – in the name of transparency.

Mr Hunt, on the other hand, has become reticent. His claim is that he only challenged Mr Little to a debate because the other man had said he “knowingly” lied, and would not take part in such an event on any other terms.

“It’s getting extremely semantic and… extremely technical, and it may even be legally sound,” said Mr Little. “But what it feels like is, this man who’s a clever politician… is obfuscating and avoiding a serious discussion about the NHS, and mental health, and the future of the NHS, off the basis of a semantic argument and a technical argument, and I don’t think that’s reasonable.”

Mr Little said he had debunked two of Hunt’s claims and actually bolstered one, the health secretary having undersold his achievement.

Little told James O’Brien he couldn’t believe the Tory had tried to dispute Hawking’s cherrypicking claim: “Literally, his job is to analyse evidence and use that to theorise the most extraordinary things that most of us can’t comprehend.

“If anyone knows what cherrypicking statistics is, and how evidence works, it’s Stephen Hawking. If he’s telling you you’re getting it wrong, you listen. Surely?”

He said: “Where the problem comes is going, ‘Everything’s going really well,’ and it’s simply not true or it’s certainly not the full story… It’s the NHS. We need to know what’s going on with it… We need to know it’s not being privatised on the quiet.

“Again, something I’d like to ask the man.”

Here’s the full interview:

It seems to This Writer that Mr Little has a very strong point.

It doesn’t matter whether Mr Hunt “knowingly” lied or inadvertently quoted false figures – the end result is the same.

We can’t allow ourselves to believe a word he says.

Maybe he doesn’t want to clear that up.

If so, that might be a worse stain on his character.

Source: Ralf Little Explains The Twitter Row Between Him, Jeremy Hunt And Stephen Hawking – LBC


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It’s open season on Jeremy Hunt! Let’s ALL tell him the facts of his failures

Jeremy Hunt.

There’s a new contact sport out in the Twittersphere: Hunt-baiting.

The rules are simple: Contact Jeremy Hunt on Twitter and pick a fight with him about any aspect of his treatment of the National Health Service.

Let him try to argue his case.

Then hit him with the facts and see if he runs to the BBC and lies about you. You can treat it as a relay if you like, with one person setting him up and another – or several others – hitting him with the facts

The game was (inadvertently) invented by actor and footballer Ralf Little, who challenged Mr Hunt in a lengthy Twitter thread. Mr Hunt then surprised everybody by appearing in a BBC Newsbeat interview, claiming that Mr Little had not produced any evidence to support his criticisms.

The information Mr Little quoted was older than Mr Hunt’s recent claims; if he really wasn’t knowingly lying, then Mr Hunt was admitting that he doesn’t actually know what is going on in the area of government for which he carries ultimate responsibility – that he is, in fact, incompetent.

And some people have been calling him out over it – people like Johanna Walden, who tweeted: “Everything about that Newsbeat interview with Hunt was disgraceful.”

Mr Hunt responded, and the game was on:

It was Rachel Clarke who provided the evidence:

Whether Jeremy Hunt has been back to Newsbeat yet is not clear. Perhaps you’d like to have a go?


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BBC gets the Ralf Little – Jeremy Hunt debate completely backwards

Jeremy Hunt and Ralf Little [Composite: BBC].

Note to the editors of the BBC’s Newsbeat: It’s Ralf Little who has challenged Jeremy Hunt to a debate, not the other way around.

And Mr Hunt’s claim that he’s waiting for Mr Little to “show the evidence” is arse-backwards – all the information was put to the world in a mammoth Twitter thread by the actor/footballer, weeks ago.

This Writer recorded the whole thing for posterity and you can read it here.

Mr Hunt responded with his own version of the facts – that thread is here.

Finally, Mr Little made a very few pointed remarks about Mr Hunt’s claims here.

So the information is all out in the public domain and, to be honest, I’m not sure anybody will be able to see what’s stopping Mr Hunt from getting into a TV studio and actually standing up for himself, rather than running away as usual.

Mr Little himself clearly thinks he provided all the information necessary for Mr Hunt to get into the TV studio, and is ready for more:

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/939821587880206336

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/939944229912137729

Yes – game on.

It’s time for Mr Hunt to stop hiding behind a lie about lack of evidence and concentrate on his own counter-claims…

In a TV studio. In front of millions of viewers.

We’re all waiting – for him.

The health secretary says he’ll debate actor Ralf Little over claims he’s lied about the NHS.

In an interview with Newsbeat, Jeremy Hunt says he’s waiting for the Royle Family star to “show the evidence” that he hasn’t expanded NHS mental health provision.

The pair started rowing on Twitter weeks ago after the MP appeared on TV talking about investing in care.

Asked about the row with Ralf Little, he said: “I get involved in lots of Twitter spats with lots of different people when I think they’re not being fair about the progress the NHS is making.

“He’s got to show me the evidence of what he’s said.

“When he provides that, I’ll happily come into your studio and debate with him, but he hasn’t been able to do that.”

Source: Jeremy Hunt challenges Ralf Little – BBC Newsbeat


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Ralf Little v Jeremy Hunt round three: Let’s have that live TV debate

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:

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/933051665795731461

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/933052048735637504

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/933052747808759809

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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Jeremy Hunt responds to Little’s lesson on mental health – but is he credible?

Here’s what most doctors think of Jeremy Hunt, I reckon [Image: Sean Hansford/MEN].

It is hard to give any credence at all to Jeremy Hunt’s Twitter thread on his claims about mental health care in the National Health Service.

The current debate started when the health secretary failed to respond positively after Professor Stephen Hawking challenged him to a live television debate.

The issue then was Professor Hawking’s claim that Mr Hunt cherry-picked statistics to suit his narrative – for example, with his claim that a “weekend effect” caused an increase in the number of NHS patient deaths. This claim was subsequently proved false.

So actor Ralf Little took up the baton, offering to debate Mr Hunt on television, in place of Professor Hawking, and claiming that Mr Hunt had “knowingly lied” when he said he had overseen the “biggest expansion of mental health provision in Europe”.

It seems Mr Hunt has chosen to respond to Mr Little – not by accepting the challenge, but in kind – with a lengthy Twitter thread in which he quotes statistics (selectively?) in support of his claims.

It is more than a week since Mr Little posted his own thread. Why the delay? Was Mr Hunt waiting for his aides to come up with statistics that would support him? In that case, he’ll be guilty of cherry-picking again.

Let’s have a quick reminder of Mr Hunt’s record as health secretary, with this infographic from the end of last year:


And, has he convinced anyone with his current argument?

Let’s consider what he has to say (with some tweet-specific replies thrown in – and I apologise for the repetition of some tweets; Mr Hunt has a very strange way of constructing his thread):

Notice that Mr Hunt begins by setting out the claim, then goes straight into a put-down. Ralf Little has acted in comedy, certainly – that doesn’t make him a “funny bloke” and if he chooses to tackle a serious subject then he deserves to be treated seriously. And Mr Little did not trade any insults – he made an assertion and provided factual information to support it.

An increase in staff is not necessarily an increase in doctors and nurses, though.

So, even if we take Mr Hunt’s word on the numbers, less than half these new staff are fully-qualified – and qualified in what, exactly? Mr Hunt says nothing to suggest that they are qualified medical practitioners specialising in mental health care.

Nurses in training do not equal an expansion in MH provision now – and an increase in nurse training places does not mean that candidates will step up to fill those places, especially as it now costs a considerable amount of money to train as a nurse.

https://twitter.com/wendaville/status/932719930813894657

21,000 posts? What kind of posts? And – let’s remember – plans do not always become reality.

Hang on – he states that spending went up last year, and this has delivered notable improvements in MH “in the last seven years”. How was this achieved? Time travel?

Let’s consider some of the general replies to Mr Hunt’s thread:

https://twitter.com/Daniellemalaur1/status/932620529693052928

https://twitter.com/David_Hesford/status/932671407623897089

https://twitter.com/tania_linden/status/932684574823415808

So what do you think? Is Mr Hunt credible?

I would suggest that he is not.


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Actor Ralf Little’s lesson for Jeremy Hunt on mental health provision

Ralf Little: Because, let’s face it, you don’t want to see another gurning photo of Jeremy Hunt.

It seems clear our entertainers are sick of sharing the media with lying Tories.

Here’s Ralf Little, reminding Jeremy Hunt of the facts about mental health in no uncertain terms – and not only does he put the Health Secretary firmly in his fact-doctoring place, he goes on to propose that he accept the challenge Mr Hunt laid down to Professor Stephen Hawking, for a public debate on the subject.

What a put-down!

See, by issuing the challenge, Mr Hunt was claiming he knows better about science than the man we accept to be the UK’s smartest scientist.

By offering to accept the challenge for Professor Hawking, Mr Little is saying Hunt can be beaten by an actor with no advanced skills in either science in general or medicine in particular (I accept I may be doing Mr Little a disservice here, as I know nothing about his education).

I doubt Mr Hunt will accept the challenge; he has too much to lose.

But I would certainly watch the debate.

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/924636074231717888

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930128900629368832

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930129192292966401

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930129481326620672

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930131874319601664

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930132506388688896

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930132743811489793

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930133042747887618

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930133109676396544

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930134634792439810

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930134756108505088

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930135387804241925

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930135544738271237

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930135683892641793

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930135861454409728

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930136031340441601

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930137129077878784

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930137535866703872

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138146595106817

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138218607140865

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138387369091073

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https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138903297871879

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930139110739730432

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930139292692893701

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930139626811125760

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930139784370118657

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930140104563286018

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930140405043269633

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930140578213449728


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Actor Ralf Little schools Jeremy Hunt on mental health provision

Ralf Little: Because, let’s face it, you don’t want to see another gurning photo of Jeremy Hunt.

It seems clear our entertainers are sick of sharing the media with lying Tories.

Here’s Ralf Little, reminding Jeremy Hunt of the facts about mental health in no uncertain terms – and not only does he put the Health Secretary firmly in his fact-doctoring place, he goes on to propose that he accept the challenge Mr Hunt laid down to Professor Stephen Hawking, for a public debate on the subject.

What a put-down!

See, by issuing the challenge, Mr Hunt was claiming he knows better about science than the man we accept to be the UK’s smartest scientist.

By offering to accept the challenge for Professor Hawking, Mr Little is saying Hunt can be beaten by an actor with no advanced skills in either science in general or medicine in particular (I accept I may be doing Mr Little a disservice here, as I know nothing about his education).

I doubt Mr Hunt will accept the challenge; he has too much to lose.

But I would certainly watch the debate.

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/924636074231717888

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930128900629368832

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930129192292966401

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930129481326620672

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930131874319601664

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930132506388688896

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930132743811489793

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https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930135387804241925

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930135544738271237

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930135683892641793

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930135861454409728

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930136031340441601

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930137129077878784

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930137535866703872

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138146595106817

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138218607140865

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138387369091073

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138592512442374

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138739560546305

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930138903297871879

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930139110739730432

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930139292692893701

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930139626811125760

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930139784370118657

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930140104563286018

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930140405043269633

https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/930140578213449728


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
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2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

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And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook