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Health Minister refuses interview after ITV speaks to junior doctors

Government health minister Ben Gummer at Downing Street. Photo: John Stillwell / PA

ITV were hoping to interview Government health minister Ben Gummer who has been on a two day visit to the region, but he's now refused to speak with us after we interviewed junior doctors in Cornwall.

The doctors in question had tracked down Mr Gummer, as he made a brief stop at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, and put their concerns to him about their current working conditions and future.

But after they told us what they told him, the health minister then wouldn't come on this programme.

Mr Gummer refused to speak with us after we interviewed junior doctors in Cornwall. Credit: ITV West Country

The Government say that Mr Gummer was unable to make the interview since they were on a 'tight schedule'.

It's not true to suggest the Health Minister refused to speak to ITV News after they interviewed junior doctors.

The priority has been to meet with frontline staff and patients at St Julia's Hospice, Livewell Southwest, Tiverton Hospital and the Royal Cornwall Hospital, which included a constructive meeting with junior doctors.

This is a fair, safe and reasonable contract - 90 per cent of it agreed with the BMA. As we move towards implementation we hope junior doctors see the much improved offer on the table compared to the current contract.

– Department of Health spokesperson
Ben Gummer was in the city seen here visiting a Cornwall hospice. Credit: ITV West Country

The region's junior doctors have stood on the picket lines to make their point. But when Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt imposed a new contract upon them, it was clear to them they hadn't had their voices heard.

So when doctors in Truro discovered that Mr Hunt's deputy was visiting Cornwall, they tracked him down and he agreed to listen to their concerns.

In September I will be losing 30% of my pay and he was very surprised to hear this actually, and wasn't able to give me any answers about that at all and so he said he'd be looking into that - so from a personal perspective that makes this meeting a great success.

– Dr Natasha Houghan

Dr Sophie Welchman also asked Mr Gummer if childcare would be provided when the new contract comes into force.

But after we then spoke to doctors, Mr Gummer pulled out of our interview.

Junior doctors in the region say they're feeling the pressure. One says patient safety has always been at the heart of their concerns over the new contract.

Jeremy Hunt has consistently said his door is open but we can't find the door because there have been alot of people trying to talk to him and they've been repeatedly rebuffed.

In the Government's letter to us yesterday it said that the details hadn't been finalised so we don't even know all of the details of how this will be but I think our main concern is the safety of working too many hours.

– Dr Louise Anning

Junior doctors will now have to wait for the contracts to be published to see in detail how they'll all be affected.