Jeremy Hunt told a lie about the NHS on Twitter, and immediately lived to regret it [TWEETS]

Kerry-anne Mendoza

Apparently having forgotten that he lives in the Information Age, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt attempted to lie about the NHS on Twitter. He is now suffering from a chronic case of death by fact check.

The lie

Hunt has been in hot water this week after ‘accidentally‘ giving the press an insight into the Brexit chaos at Number 10. Sauntering up Downing Street, Hunt inadvertently gave photographers a flash of his briefing notes for the day’s Brexit cabinet meeting. The page exposed to the press was headed with the question:

What recent discussions have been had with Home Secretary on ensuring the NHS has the workforce it needs after UK leaves the EU?

In his answer, Hunt states:

Hard Brexit means people fleeing UK.

The Health Secretary then did a whirl of press to reassure the public his notes were totally unreflective of his actual opinion. He also took to Twitter to do the same:

Hunt claims that an additional 2,200 doctors and 4,000 nurses arrived from the EU in the year up to March 2017. And his claim is a complete misrepresentation of the facts.

The facts

Almost immediately, those with a keen eye for data flooded Hunt’s timeline with some uncomfortable home truths.

Hunt is quoting NHS Digital Data figures, which only count “joiners to the NHS with EU nationality”. This means those on the list could well have been in Britain long before the Brexit vote. Unfortunately for Jeremy Hunt, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) does count EU nationals moving to Britain to join the NHS. Their figures show a sharp percentage drop in new nurses and midwives since the EU Referendum.

Put another way, this is how those numbers look when charted.

This point has been hammered home to Hunt mercilessly on social media ever since.

Not for the first time, the Health Secretary has been caught misrepresenting data to suit his case. Either through wilful deception or an inability to fully grasp his brief.

Whatever a person’s view on Brexit, they deserve to be told the truth about its potential impacts; and to have the time and training to prepare. But with an enfeebled Prime Minister, and an increasingly out of touch Health Secretary, chances of such honesty are slim to none.

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