Boris Johnson has been heavily criticised after he was filmed grabbing a journalist’s phone and putting it in his pocket as he was shown a picture of a child lying on a Leeds hospital floor.
The prime minister was being interviewed by ITV’s political correspondent Joe Pike, who tried to show him a widely publicised photo of four-year-old Jack Williment-Barr.
The photo, published in the Yorkshire Evening Post, shows the child lying between coats on the floor with an oxygen mask at Leeds General Infirmary after being taken to hospital with suspected pneumonia earlier this month.
His mother Sarah Williment said the lack of beds at the hospital – during its busiest week for A&E for three years – meant he had to be placed in a room, using a coat to lie on.
ITV footage shows the reporter trying to show Mr Johnson the photo of Jack on his phone. The prime minister initially declines to look and puts it in his pocket, before apologising and viewing it.
Tried to show @BorisJohnson the picture of Jack Williment-Barr. The 4-year-old with suspected pneumonia forced to lie on a pile of coats on the floor of a Leeds hospital.— Joe Pike (@joepike) December 9, 2019
The PM grabbed my phone and put it in his pocket: @itvcalendar | #GE19 pic.twitter.com/hv9mk4xrNJ
BREAKING: The Prime Minister has been questioned about the Yorkshire Evening Post story on the election campaign trail this morning and has apologised to the family https://t.co/B8jSd2psNn— YorkshireEveningPost (@LeedsNews) December 9, 2019
After apologising to Mr Pike for pocketing his phone, he looks at the photo and says: “It’s a terrible, terrible photo, and I apologise obviously to the family and all those who have terrible experiences in the NHS, but what we are doing is supporting the NHS and on the whole I think patients in the NHS have a much, much better experience than this poor kid has had.”
Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner hit out at Mr Johnson’s conduct.
Utter disgrace, Boris Johnson grabs Journalists mobile and puts it in his pocket when confronted about the little 4 year old boy with suspected pneumonia forced to lie on pile of coats on floor of Leeds hospital. Do you really want this man running the country for next 5 years?😡 https://t.co/LkavBiyYHO— Angela Rayner 🌈 (@AngelaRayner) December 9, 2019
Andy McDonald, Labour’s shadow secretary for transport, said Mr Johnson’s response was an “utter disgrace”.
Children are being left in piles of coats on hospital floors.— Andy McDonald (@AndyMcDonaldMP) December 9, 2019
But for Boris Johnson it’s all a joke.
Here he pockets a journalist’s phone instead of answering the questions put to him.
What an utter disgrace.#VoteLabourDecember12 to #SaveOurNHS.https://t.co/MFNnIxASu0
The Conservatives have pledged to give more money to the NHS – £20.5billion between 2018 and 2024, when adjusted for inflation – and provide 50 million more GP appointments a year.
They have also pledged to recruit 50,000 more nurses, but the real figure of new nurses they would hire is 31,000, with the rest being retained.
Labour has pledged to increase spending “across the health sector” by an average of 4.3% a year and provide 27 million more GP appointments each year.