General election 2019: Boris Johnson criticised over reaction to sick boy image

General election 2019: Boris Johnson criticised over reaction to sick boy image
By: WNG BBC Posted On: December 09, 2019 View: 55

General election 2019: Boris Johnson criticised over reaction to sick boy image

Boris Johnson has been criticised after refusing to look at a picture of a sick four-year-old boy that spurred complaints about cuts to the NHS.

Jack Williment-Barr was pictured in the Daily Mirror after he had to sleep on the floor of a Leeds hospital, despite having suspected pneumonia.

An ITV reporter tried to show Mr Johnson the picture on his phone, but he refused to look, before taking the device and putting it in his pocket.

He later looked and returned the phone.

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth called Mr Johnson a "disgrace of a man", while Independent Group for Change leader Anna Soubry called his actions "appalling".

Mr Johnson was asked by other reporters why he had not looked at the photo, but he did not answer the question directly, instead repeating Conservative pledges for the NHS and promising to rebuild "the whole of Leeds Royal Infirmary from top to bottom".

Jack was taken into hospital last week after being ill for six days.

He was seen as soon as he arrived and given a bed and oxygen. But a few hours later the bed had to be given to another patient and Jack was left without one for more than four hours.

His mother, Sarah Williment, made a makeshift bed for her son with coats and took the picture.

She told the Mirror the doctors and nurses were "lovely people", but she was "angry at the lack of funding and the lack of beds", accusing the government of "failing our children".

ITV reporter Joe Pike was given an interview with Mr Johnson when he visited Grimsby on the campaign trail.

He asked the PM to look at the photo of Jack on his phone several times.

Mr Johnson said he had not seen the picture yet but refused to look at it while Mr Pike questioned him.

Eventually, he took Mr Pike's phone and put it in his pocket, saying: "If you don't mind, I'll give you an interview now."

'What's your response?'

Mr Pike said: "You refuse to look at the photo. You've taken my phone and put it in your pocket, prime minister.

"His mother says the NHS is in crisis. What's your response to that?"

Mr Johnson then removed the phone from his pocket and looked at the screen.

"It's a terrible, terrible photo, and I apologise, obviously, to the family, and all those who have terrible experiences in the NHS," he said.

"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.

"That's why we're making huge investments into the NHS, and we can only do it if we get Parliament going, if we unblock the current deadlock, and we move forward."

The PM then apologised to Mr Pike for taking his phone and returned it.

Mr Ashworth said refusing to look at the picture was "a new low" for the PM, adding: "It's clear he could not care less.

"Don't give this disgrace of a man five more years of driving our NHS into the ground. Sick toddlers like Jack deserve so much better."

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson also said Mr Johnson would not look at the photo because "he simply does not care".

She tweeted: "He doesn't care about Jack. He doesn't care about anyone other than himself."

Read this on WNG BBC
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