From The Guardian
Jeremy Hunt is under mounting pressure over his handling of the junior doctors’ dispute after he unexpectedly abandoned his repeated threat to impose a new contract on them – a move that has led to four strikes by doctors so far.
Hunt’s change of tack, which comes as a high court legal challenge to him over the dispute begins today, has led Labour to claim that he may have misled parliament over the contract imposition because he has spoken of the threat repeatedly in front of MPs in the House of Commons.
Junior doctors are due to strike for a fifth time on 26 and 27 April, this time opting out of all care, including emergency treatment.
The health secretary has retreated from his claim that he has the right to exercise what he called the “nuclear option” of imposition. His U-turn is revealed in a letter from the government’s lawyers that was seen by the Guardian and confirmed by his own Department of Health.
“If the secretary of state was pretending to have a decision-making power but in fact only had the power to make recommendations to NHS bodies and others employing junior doctors, the secretary of state will have acted unlawfully by purporting to exercise a power he never had.”