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Disinformation about ‘lack of 24/7 care’ will stop patients seeking urgent help



Let’s be honest: it has been great fun taking the p*ss out of Jeremy Rhyming-Slang, MP for South West Surrey, subject of some of Twitter’s busiest hashtags, author of learned texts on the dismantling of the NHS, flagrant breacher of patient confidentiality and, so far, the only Secretary of State for Health who has ever succeeded in uniting nurses, GPs and consultants to act for a common cause – even if that unlikely union is based upon mutual hatred rather than some worthy ideal.

But there comes a time in every playground roughhouse when things go a little bit too far. If the kids just don’t learn to play together nicely, then somebody’s going to get hurt.

His assertion that the NHS doesn’t provide a safe 24/7 service has raised hackles, but, it couldn’t have done any harm, could it?

Anecdotes are starting to creep into GPs’ coffee rooms about patients who, despite suffering the sort of symptoms you’d want to know about PDQ (central chest pains and all that), have decided to wait until Monday before seeking help because Mr Hunt had been on TV and said that consultants don’t work weekends.

Which is frightening and appalling in equal measure.

Someone, somewhere, is going to get hurt.

So, Jeremy, mate, come on. Talk to us like grown ups, stop disparaging us every chance you get and stop chucking meat at the media packdogs. And FFS, stop dreaming about the cushy job in private medicine that you’re going to step into when your career in politics is over.

Because to get that job, you’re going to have to annihilate the NHS as we know it. What a legacy that would be.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield