Boris Johnson speaks out after confrontation with furious parent over NHS waiting times: it's part of my job

Sean Morrison, Tim Baker

Boris Johnson has spoken out over his confrontation with a parent of a “gravely ill” child about NHS waiting times, saying it is “part of my job” to talk to people on the ground.

The Prime Minister’s disagreement with the father came during a planned visit by Mr Johnson to Whipps Cross University Hospital in east London earlier on Wednesday.

Omar Salem, whose baby daughter was being treated there, told the PM: “The NHS has been destroyed ... and now you come here for a press opportunity.”

Mr Johnson has replied “there’s no press here”, after which Mr Salem replied: “What do you mean there's no press here, who are these people?" and pointing at photographers.

The Conservative leader later shared footage of the incident on social media and addressed criticism that had been an “embarrassment”.

He wrote on Twitter: “I’ve been PM for 57 days, part of my job is to talk to people on the ground and listen to what they tell me about the big problems.

“It doesn’t matter if they agree with me. I’m glad this gentleman told me his problems. This isn’t an embarrassment this is part of my job.”

Mr Salem had told the Prime Minister: "There are not enough people on this ward, there are not enough doctors, there's not enough nurses, it's not well organised enough.”

Addressing the fact that he is a Labour activist, Mr Salem said: “ People will be shocked. You couldn’t tell from my Twitter profile. My Labour values are WHY I back proper support for the NHS. I am not ashamed of them.”

Alan Gurney, Chief Executive of Whipps Cross hospital, said: “We are constantly reviewing staffing levels on our wards to ensure our patients are safe at all times.

"But occasionally - as in fact happened on this ward last night- an unexpected emergency in one part of the hospital can cause a temporary pressure elsewhere.”