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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe with Sir John Major, Jeremy Hunt and Hugo Swire, in 2013

In March 2014, Hunt announced the government would not give a recommended 1% pay rise to NHS non-medical staff receiving progression pay (around 55% of total non-medical staff).[83] Following a pre-election report in April 2015 that hospital chiefs shared an average 6% pay rise totalling £35 million, Hunt promised to investigate if the Conservatives won the election.[84]

In July 2015, Hunt became the subject of the first petition on a new UK government website to reach the threshold of 100,000 signatures required for a petition to be considered for debate in Parliament. The petition called for a debate on a vote of "No Confidence" in Hunt as Health Secretary,[85][86] and ultimately recorded 222,991 signatures leading to a debate on the motion being scheduled in September 2015.[87] However, the Petitions Committee would not have had the power to initiate a vote of no confidence so instead debated the contracts and conditions of NHS staff.[88][89][90]

In 2015, an undercover Daily Telegraph investigation showed that in some cases locum agencies, Medicare and Team24 owned by Capita were charging some hospitals higher fees than others and giving false company details. The agencies were charging up to 49% of the fee. Hunt criticised those who sought "big profits" at the expense of the NHS and taxpayers and pr

In July 2015, Hunt became the subject of the first petition on a new UK government website to reach the threshold of 100,000 signatures required for a petition to be considered for debate in Parliament. The petition called for a debate on a vote of "No Confidence" in Hunt as Health Secretary,[85][86] and ultimately recorded 222,991 signatures leading to a debate on the motion being scheduled in September 2015.[87] However, the Petitions Committee would not have had the power to initiate a vote of no confidence so instead debated the contracts and conditions of NHS staff.[88][89][90]

In 2015, an undercover Daily Telegraph investigation showed that in some cases locum agencies, Medicare and Team24 owned by Capita were charging some hospitals higher fees than others and giving false company details. The agencies were charging up to 49% of the fee. Hunt criticised those who sought "big profits" at the expense of the NHS and taxpayers and promised to "reduce the margins rip-off agencies are able to generate."[91]

In 2016, Hunt called for a reduction in the number of foreign doctors working in the NHS after the UK left the EU.[92] At the Conservative Party Conference later in the month, Hunt pledged, by 2025, the NHS would be "self-sufficient in doctors". He announced an increase of up to 1,500 extra places at medical schools in the UK in 2018, with it being partly funded by an increase in international medical student fees. Hunt also stated UK medical students would be forced to work in the NHS for at least four years or have to repay the cost of their training, around £220,000.[93][94]

In July 2015, Hunt indicated he would be prepared to impose a new consultant contract on doctors in England which would remove the opt out for non-emergency work at weekends to prevent "about 6,000 avoidable deaths" resulting from "Monday to Friday culture" in the NHS and to reintroduce "a sense of vocation" in consultants.[95] The comments angered doctors who responded by sharing photographs of themselves working at weekends via social media using the hashtag #ImInWorkJeremy.[96][97][98] Hunt was criticised by statisticians David Spiegelhalter and David Craven, BMA council chair Mark Porter and Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander for his claims not merely misrepresenting the facts but potentially causing patients to delay hospitals visits and put themselves at risk. His critics described the Hunt Effect where patients who needed medical attention at a weekend had been deterred from doing so because they were persuaded it would be better to wait until a Monday.[99][100][101]

In October 2015, Hunt was accused by the editor of The BMJ Fiona Godlee of repeatedly misrepresenting a study published in the journal on the weekend effect. He had

In October 2015, Hunt was accused by the editor of The BMJ Fiona Godlee of repeatedly misrepresenting a study published in the journal on the weekend effect. He had used the study as evidence when stating reduced staffing levels of doctors at weekends directly led to 11,000 excess deaths. Godlee asserted the study's authors did not specify the excess deaths were avoidable or staffing levels were the cause.[102][103][104] The lead author of the study Nick Freemantle stated they did not identify a cause for excess deaths or establish the extent to which they were avoidable.[105] Co-author NHS Medical Director Bruce Keogh in response to Hunt's comments in October stated "It is not possible to ascertain the extent to which these excess deaths may be preventable".[106]

In January 2016, Hunt was criticised by stroke doctors for using out-of-date data to show stroke patients were more likely to die if admitted at weekends. They wrote there had been significant improvements since 2004–12, when Hunt's data came from, and new data showed there was "no longer any excess of hospital deaths in patients with stroke admitted at the weekend."[107][108] Stroke specialist David Curtis said even the outdated statistics did not support Hunt's claims.[109] In February, a leaked internal report by the Department of Health stated the department was unable to prove a link between increased consultant presence, availability of diagnostic tests, and reducing weekend mortality and length of stay. It highlighted the seven-day NHS could cost an additional £900 million each year, required the recruitment of 11,000 more staff including 4,000 doctors and 3,000 nurses, and community and social services could struggle to handle more discharges at the weekend.[110]

In May 2016, another study also concluded there was no evidence people were more likely to die in hospitals at the weekend.[111][112][113] In August, internal Department of Health risk management documents were leaked. They described 13 major risks in delivering the "truly seven-day NHS" pledge promised by the Conservatives prior to the 2015 general election. These included a lack of staff and funding for the policy. The documents also stated no advance impact assessments had been made to show how the policy would affect the delivery of NHS services.[114][115][116] Chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson described the seven-day NHS plan as "impossible to deliver" due to a lack of funding and staffing. He also highlighted pressures on the NHS with 80% of acute hospitals in England in financial deficit compared to 5% in 2013 and an increase of missed A&E waiting time targets from 10% to 90% in the same time period.[117][118] In May 2016, a report by the House of Commons public accounts committee criticised Hunt's plan for a seven-day NHS, saying "no coherent attempt" had made to understand staffing needs, the plan was "completely uncosted", and contained "serious flaws".[119][120][121][122]

Under Hunt, the Department of Health announced a new junior doctors' contract in England which would increase doctors' basic pay but extend "normal hours" for which they would not be paid a premium.[123][124][125] In September 2015, the British Medical Association (BMA) said they would not re-enter negotiations unless Hunt dropped his threat to impose the contract and balloted their members for industrial action.[126] They argued the contract would include an increase in working hours with a relative pay cut of up to 40%.[123][127] Many junior doctors said they would leave the NHS if the contract was forced through.[128] Hunt tried reassuring the BMA no junior doctor would face a pay cut, before admitting those who worked longer than 56 hours a week would face a fall in pay but said working these long hours was unsafe.[129] In November 2015, he said he would offer a basic pay increase of 11%, but still removing compensation for longer hours.[130][131][132] In response, BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana requested further details of the offer and said "The increase in basic pay would be offset by changes to pay for unsocial hours, devaluing the vital work junior doctors do at evenings and weekends."[133][134]

On 19 November 2015, the result of a BMA strike ballot was announced, with 98% voting for full strike action. After the results were announced, BMA council chair Mark Porter appealed to the health secretary to resume negotiations facilitated by Acas.[135][136] Hunt agreed to discussions overseen by Acas and withdrew his threat to impose a new contract without agreement, and the first day of strike action was called off hours before it was due to start, which was too late to avoid some disru

On 19 November 2015, the result of a BMA strike ballot was announced, with 98% voting for full strike action. After the results were announced, BMA council chair Mark Porter appealed to the health secretary to resume negotiations facilitated by Acas.[135][136] Hunt agreed to discussions overseen by Acas and withdrew his threat to impose a new contract without agreement, and the first day of strike action was called off hours before it was due to start, which was too late to avoid some disruption.[137][138][139] An agreement was not reached by the junior doctors committee's 4 January 2016 deadline, so the BMA announced a strike would go ahead.[140][141]

The first day of strike action was in January 2016 and involved junior doctors only providing emergency care.[142] Hunt said it was "unnecessary", patients could be put at risk and many junior doctors had "ignored" the strike call and worked anyway. The BMA responded saying many junior doctors were in work maintaining emergency care as planned.[143][144] A second day of strike action occurred in February 2016 where doctors again provided only emergency care.[145][146][147] Following the first two strikes, Hunt announced he would be unilaterally imposing the new contract without agreement or further negotiation, with NHS trusts instructed to introduce it in August.[148][149] This followed government chief negotiator David Dalton reporting junior doctors contract negotiations had ceased after his final offer to the BMA had been declined.[150][151] In response, the BMA announced three 48-hour long strikes and issued a legal challenge over the contract.[152]

Further talks after the strikes resulted in an agreement to be put to a referendum.[153][154][155] In the July referendum, 58% of BMA members rejected the offer.[156] Following this, Johann Malawana resigned and Hunt rejected holding any further talks with the BMA and announced the imposition of the new contract on junior doctors starting from October.[157] In the lead up to his imposition of the contract, Hunt stated publicly and in Parliament his intention and power to do so.[158][159] This matter was challenged in the High Court by a group of doctors, "Justice for Health".[160] Hunt won the case.[161]

In February 2016, Hunt was polled as the "most disliked" frontline British politician.[162] He acknowledged there would be "considerable dismay" and announced an urgent inquiry led by Academy of Medical Royal Colleges chair Susan Bailey into junior doctors' morale and welfare.[150][163] The Academy Trainee Doctors' Group voted unanimously not to participate in the review under the offered terms.[164][165] He said he had lessons to learn but denied any personal responsibility for the dispute.[166][167][168]

Also, in 2016, both Professor Stephen Hawking and Professor Robert Winston called for an inquiry into claims made by Mr Hunt regarding the NHS had sufficient funding, with Hawking saying Hunt had “cherry-picked research, causing a devastating breakdown of trust between government and the medical profession”.[169] Given this, Hunt's tweet after Hawking's death claiming that the physicist was a 'hero' to him received widespread condemnation. A response to Hunt from author Guy Mankowski went viral when it stated that '[Hawking] disagreed with you so vehemently he took you to court. If he was truly a hero to you...you wouldn't have argued with him'.[169][170][171]

Hunt was appointed Foreign Secretary in July 2018 following the resignation of Boris Johnson.[172] Hunt said "My principal job at a time of massive importance for our country is to stand four square behind the Prime Minister so that we can get through an agreement with the European Union based on what was agreed by the Cabinet last week at Chequers."[173]

Hunt supported the Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen and described Saudi Arabia as a "very, very important military ally". In August 2018, he defended Britain's alliance with Saudi Arabia after a bomb dropped on a school bus in Yemen killed 51 people, including 40 children, although he said he was "deeply shocked" at the deaths.[174] Amid global outrage over the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Hunt rejected calls to end the UK's arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying: "There are jobs in the UK ... at stake so when it comes to the issue of arms sales we have our procedures."[175] In February 2019, He urged Germany to lift ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and warned that Germans are risking "a loss of confidence in Germany’s credibility as a partner",[176] although he admitted: "Over 80,000 children [in Yemen] have died of starvation, there are about a quarter of a million people starving at the moment, and around 20 million people don't have food security – they don't know whether they’re going to be able to get the food they need in the days ahead."[177] Andrew Smith, of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), said Hunt "played an utterly central and complicit role in arming and supporting the Saudi-led destruction of Yemen."[178]

In July 2018, Hunt visited China and met China's foreign minister Wang Yi. Hunt said that the "UK-China Strategic Dialogue is an important opportunity to intensify our cooperation on shared challenges in international affairs, ranging from global free trade to non-proliferation and environmental challenges, under the UK-China Global Partnership and 'Golden Era' for UK-China relations".[179] In October 2018, he criticised the Xinjiang re-education camps and human rights abuses against the Uyghur Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen and described Saudi Arabia as a "very, very important military ally". In August 2018, he defended Britain's alliance with Saudi Arabia after a bomb dropped on a school bus in Yemen killed 51 people, including 40 children, although he said he was "deeply shocked" at the deaths.[174] Amid global outrage over the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Hunt rejected calls to end the UK's arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying: "There are jobs in the UK ... at stake so when it comes to the issue of arms sales we have our procedures."[175] In February 2019, He urged Germany to lift ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and warned that Germans are risking "a loss of confidence in Germany’s credibility as a partner",[176] although he admitted: "Over 80,000 children [in Yemen] have died of starvation, there are about a quarter of a million people starving at the moment, and around 20 million people don't have food security – they don't know whether they’re going to be able to get the food they need in the days ahead."[177] Andrew Smith, of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), said Hunt "played an utterly central and complicit role in arming and supporting the Saudi-led destruction of Yemen."[178]

In July 2018, Hunt visited China and met China's foreign minister Wang Yi. Hunt said that the "UK-China Strategic Dialogue is an important opportunity to intensify our cooperation on shared challenges in international affairs, ranging from global free trade to non-proliferation and environmental challenges, under the UK-China Global Partnership and 'Golden Era' for UK-China relations".[179] In October 2018, he criticised the Xinjiang re-education camps and human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority in China, saying: "British diplomats who visited Xinjiang have confirmed that reports of mass internment camps for Uighur Muslims were 'broadly true'."[180]

Hunt was critical of Russia and Iran. On 23 August 2018, Hunt met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the 'threat' from both countries.[181][182] In April 2019, Hunt condemned the United States for recognising Israel's 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights, saying: "We should never recognise the annexation of territory by force. (...) We want Israel to be a success and we consider them to be a great friend but on this we do not agree."[183] In June 2019, he stated he shared the U.S. government's assessment that Iran was to blame for two attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.[184]

Hunt supported the continued efforts of the government to leave the European Union. During the September 2018 Conservative conference, Hunt likened the European Union to the former USSR, saying: "It was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving. The lesson from history is clear: If you turn the EU club into a prison, the desire to get out won’t diminish." This comment was strongly criticised.[185] While on a February 2019 Brexit-related visit to Ljubljana, he caused anger by congratulating his hosts on "making really remarkable transformation from a Soviet vassal state to a modern European democracy." In fact Slovenia, as part of Yugoslavia, had previously been non-aligned.[186][187]

In November 2018, Hunt threatened the United Arab Emirates with "serious diplomatic consequences" after it sentenced British research student Matthew Hedges to life in prison for allegedly spying for the UK. Hunt said that the verdict "is not what we expect from a friend and trusted partner of the United Kingdom and runs contrary to earlier assurances".[188] Hedges was released at the end of November, after intense negotiations.[189]

Following the April 2019 arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London's Ecuadorian Embassy, Hunt thanked the Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno for his cooperation.[190]

Hunt announced his campaign to become the leader of the Conservative Party on 3 May 2019, following the resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May.[191] On 20 June 2019, he was named one of the final two candidates.[192] Hunt was defeated by Boris Johnson, having secured only one third of the vote. His campaign was being funded by a close associate to Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.[193][178]

Backbencher (2019–present)

Following Boris Johnson's election victory, Hunt was offered a different role to Foreign Secretary in Johnson's Cabinet but had decided to turn it down. He said on Twitter: "I would have been honoured to carry on my work at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office but understand the need for a new Prime Minister to choose his team. Boris Johnson kindly offered me another role but after 9 years in Cabinet and over 300 cabinet meetings now is the time to return to the backbenches from where the Prime Minister will have my full support."[194]

In October 2019 he founded Patient Safety Watch, a charity which seeks to establish data to report on patient safe

Following Boris Johnson's election victory, Hunt was offered a different role to Foreign Secretary in Johnson's Cabinet but had decided to turn it down. He said on Twitter: "I would have been honoured to carry on my work at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office but understand the need for a new Prime Minister to choose his team. Boris Johnson kindly offered me another role but after 9 years in Cabinet and over 300 cabinet meetings now is the time to return to the backbenches from where the Prime Minister will have my full support."[194]

In October 2019 he founded Patient Safety Watch, a charity which seeks to establish data to report on patient safety and harm in care, continuing the work on safety he started as Health Secretary. He chairs the organisation and said he planned to invest considerable sums of money into it.[195]

Hunt held his seat at the In October 2019 he founded Patient Safety Watch, a charity which seeks to establish data to report on patient safety and harm in care, continuing the work on safety he started as Health Secretary. He chairs the organisation and said he planned to invest considerable sums of money into it.[195]

Hunt held his seat at the 2019 general election.[196] He was elected as the new chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee in January 2020, succeeding Sarah Wollaston who lost her seat in the general election.[197] In February 2020, Hunt called for an inquiry into the National Health Service after the publishing of many reports regarding infant mortality in NHS hospitals.[198]

Hunt's wife, Lucia Guo, comes from Xi'an.[199] Hunt first met Guo in 2008 when she was working at Warwick University recruiting Chinese students for the university.[199][200] Hunt is 11 years older than Guo.[19] They married in July 2009 and have a son and two daughters;[201][202] Guo and the three children are low-profile and rarely appear in public.[203]

Hunt's brother Charlie runs a duvet and linens business.[204]

Hunt speaks Japanese, having studied the language for two years while working in Japan as an Engli

Hunt's brother Charlie runs a duvet and linens business.[204]

Hunt speaks Japanese, having studied the language for two years while working in Japan as an English language teacher in the 1990s.[205] In April 2019, he delivered a whistle-stop explanation of Brexit in Japanese to Japanese students during a visit to Hibiya High School in Tokyo.[206]

Hunt has named his personal political heroes as Margaret Thatcher and William Wilberforce.[17] Hunt is a Church of England Christian and a rational optimist.[207]

Hunt has advocated for pro-active good mental health through actions including exercise, social contacts, gratitude and sleep.[208]