LONDON — Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has accused the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt of misquoting him and misrepresenting research over the state of the NHS.
In an article for the Guardian, Hawking said: “There is overwhelming evidence that NHS funding and the numbers of doctors and nurses are inadequate, and it is getting worse.”
The 75 year-old author of “A Brief History of Time” said Hunt had misquoted him in an article for the Sunday Telegraph where he responded to Hawking’s accusation that “the crisis in the NHS has been caused by political decisions.”
Hawking said in his original article: “The political decisions include underfunding and cuts, privatising services, the public sector pay cap, the new contract imposed on the junior doctors and removal of the student nurses’ bursary.”
The physicist said: “We see that the direction in the UK is towards a US-style insurance system, run by the private companies, and that is because the balance of power right now is with the private companies.”
Hunt claimed that the UK was not heading towards a “US-style insurance system” for healthcare, but Hawking said Hunt misquoted him over the issue and retorted: “The increasing involvement of private health companies in the NHS is evidence for this.”
Hawking also accused the health secretary of misrepresenting research in order to support his claim that excess deaths were occurring “due to poorer hospital care and staffing at the weekend.”
He said: “As a patient who has spent a lot of time in hospital, I would welcome improved services at the weekend. For this, we need a scientific assessment of the benefits of a seven-day service and of the resources required, not misrepresentation of research.”
The famous scientist, who Hunt described as a “personal hero” was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease at 21 and has relied on NHS treatment as his condition has worsened.
Hunt argued that funding for the NHS was at a record high, but Hawking said: “Record funding is not the same thing as adequate funding.”