Jeremy Hunt accuses Stephen Hawking of 'pernicious falsehood' in NHS row
Jeremy Hunt has stepped up his attack on Stephen Hawking after the renowned scientist accused the Government of planning to privatise the NHS.
The Health Secretary accused the renowned physicist of spreading "pernicious falsehood" after he claimed the Conservatives wanted to introduce a US-style health insurance system.
Mr Hunt hit back on Twitter ahead of a speech by Professor Hawking - who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease more than 60 years ago - on Saturday evening.
In an article for The Guardian, the author of 'A Brief History of Time' had said: "The crisis in the NHS has been caused by political decisions. The political decisions include underfunding and cuts, privatising services, the public sector pay cap, the new contract imposed on the junior doctors and removal of the student nurses’ bursary.
"Failures in the system of privatised social care for disabled and elderly people has also placed additional burden on the NHS."
He also accused the Health Secretary of misrepresenting evidence to support his plans for a seven-day health service.
Dr Hawking added: "We must prevent the establishment of a two-tier service, with the best medicine for the wealthy and an inferior service for the rest. International comparisons indicate that the most efficient way to provide good healthcare is for services to be publicly funded and publicly run.
“We see that the direction in the UK is towards a US-style insurance system, run by the private companies, and that is because the balance of power right now is with the private companies.”
Mr Hunt had initially hit back at Professor Hawking on Twitter yesterday.
Mr Hunt then renewed his attack on Saturday afternoon, insisting the Government would not privatise the NHS - and pointing out that health spending had increased under the Conservatives.
Commenting on the row, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "If Stephen Hawking is saying that our NHS is under threat and in danger and in crisis then I think we need to listen very very carefully with what he has to say. I admire Stephen and I agree absolutely with what he said."
Shadow health minister Justin Madders added: "It doesn't take a genius to work out the Tories are wrecking the NHS. Professor Hawking has given us answers to many of the universe's most challenging questions and even he can't work out why Jeremy Hunt is still in his job."