Jeremy Hunt had a very uncomfortable reaction when he heard one NHS doctor’s honest admission about the state of Britain’s health service.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care ‘gulped’ as he heard how one medical professional would not have trained to be a doctor if he’d known then what he knows now about the NHS.
Speaking with ITV News National Editor, Allegra Stratton, Mr Hunt said "significantly more" money would need to be spent on the NHS in the next 10 years to ensure the health service could cope with the growing demand, particularly as average age increases.
During the interview, Allegra tells the Tory MP: "[An NHS doctor] said if he knew now what he knew when he started to train, he would not become a doctor.
"How does that make you feel?"
In response, Mr Hunt visibly swallows, appearing uncomfortable as he pauses.
Allegra immediately pulls him up on it, pointing out: "You gulped, then."
She also told him that his plan to ‘train up more doctors’ to relieve the pressure on the NHS was "years away".
Speaking about the pressures faced by employees over 207/2018, Mr Hunt added: "I completely recognise the pressures that they have been going through and when they signed up to go into medicine they knew there was going to be pressurised moments," he said.
"But I also recognise that it is not sustainable and not fair to say to them this is going to be repeated year in, year out.
"I think we’re beyond the time when words from me will make a difference. What they need to see is action."
The interview comes after it was revealed just 85.3% of patients were seen at A&E within four hours in January – the second-worst rate on record.
NHS England admitted the "worst flu season in years" had put a strain on services.
The joint worst months since records began were January and December last year on 85.1%.
More than 1,000 patients had to wait more than 12 hours to be seen – more than double the previous month.
And more patients than ever recorded, 81,003, had to wait longer than four hours from the "decision to admit" to hospital admission.
NHS England said more than 1.7million A&E patients overall, out of 2million, were seen within four hours last month, an increase of 5.72% on the daily average for the same month last year.
There were 36 cases of ambulances being diverted to other A&E departments last week, compared with 43 in the previous week.
An NHS England spokesman said: "Despite the worst flu season in seven years, A&E performance improved this month.
"It was better than both the month before, and was better too than the same time last winter.
"This was partly helped by the fact that NHS-related delayed transfers of care fell to their lowest in four years freeing up beds for patients needing emergency hospitalisation."
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "Despite the very best efforts of our brilliant NHS staff, patients and their families will understandably be profoundly concerned by the downturn in standards.
"The appalling human stories arising from the worst winter crisis on record have shocked the nation.
“Unlike the Tories, Labour will give our NHS the funding it needs to ensure the health service remains a world class service all year round.”