In the evening of 12 May, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt realised that it was International Nurses’ Day – and he’d almost missed it. He quickly sent a tweet:
Its international nurses day so I want to pay tribute to all our amazing NHS nurses. Their skill & compassion is one of the main reasons that the NHS remains the thing that makes us most proud to be British. I know you’ve never worked harder – thank you so much for all you do.
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) May 12, 2018
Just three days earlier, Conservative MPs had voted to scrap bursaries for postgraduate nursing courses.
And the Brexit vote led to a 96% drop in the number of EU nurses applying to work in the UK.
All these factors together mean that the NHS is facing a massive shortage of nurses, with over 35,000 posts unfilled. And reports from nurses on the frontline show that this shortage is putting patients at risk.
It was predictable, therefore, that Hunt’s disingenuous tweet wouldn’t go down too well:
You've taken the bursery away to cut training , nurses have taken a 17% paycut since 2010 and of course everyone is working harder than ever, there are no staff. You've driven trained staff away by persistently putting them in dangerous positions professionally. Patronising twat.
— Joanne Whiteley (@hrhjwhiteley) May 12, 2018
Sick bucket please
— sharon taylor (@55sharon) May 12, 2018
Advisor: "Jeremy, we need you to send a tweet out for International Nurses' Day"
Jeremy: "No, No, No, they hate me"
Advisor: "Do it!"
Jeremy: "All right, you write it though"
Advisor: Publishes tweet "Don't look at the replies"
Jeremy: Throws phone in the toilet
— Pádraig Joseph (@PaddyJPG) May 12, 2018
Took you a while to remember what day it was didn't it Jeremy? Too busy setting up meetings with private health providers? Or organising more dodgy property investments?
— Ian Middleton (@IanMiddletonX) May 13, 2018
What sheer audacity! How do you sleep at night!!
— Emz Rees #JC4PM2019 (@Emz5048) May 12, 2018
I am sure had twitter been around in the 18th century Ebenezer scrooge would have sent his staff a similar tweet on Christmas eve
— stephen dodd (@doddy36) May 12, 2018
We have never worked harder thanks to chronic underfunding and cuts by your government. Cheers very much.
— Georgina Morley (@morley_georgina) May 12, 2018
You really want to celebrate nurses? RESIGN & let us celebrate you
— mark_butler_RMN (@RmnMark) May 12, 2018
I'll let the wife know when she finishes another 14 hour day . She'll be made up…
— trev (@no_comment88) May 12, 2018
Its International @Conservatives Day so I want to pay tribute to all our amazing Tory Party MPs. Their total disregard for UK citizens is one of the main reasons that makes us Britons most afflicted and poorer. I know you’ve never worked harder – thank you so much for all you do.
— Gareth Joice (@GarethJoice) May 13, 2018
Almost 650 Twitter users commented on Hunt’s post. And the comments were overwhelmingly negative.
The fact is that whatever Jeremy Hunt says about appreciating nurses, his actions speak louder than words. He must know by now that nobody is fooled as he destroys the NHS whilst pretending to support it.