Jeremy Corbyn insists he is NOT using the NHS as a ‘political football’ after row over sick boy pic

Jeremy Corbyn insists he is NOT using the NHS as a ‘political football’ after row over interview hijacking Boris Johnson with photo of sick boy – as Tories insist PM DID ‘express sorrow and regret’ for what he saw

  • Corbyn insisted that funding of the health service was a ‘political issue’ 
  • A photograph showed Jack Williment, four, lying on a pile of coats to keep warm 
  • Questioned by ITV News, Mr Johnson initially refused to look at the photo 

Jeremy Corbyn defended himself from accusations that he was using the NHS as a political football today as the row over care continued to spark fury.

The Labour leader insisted that funding of the health service was a ‘serious issue, it’s a political issue’ after he clashed with Boris Johnson over the care of a small boy.

A photograph widely circulated on social media showed Jack Williment, four, lying on a pile of coats to keep warm while he waited for a bed for treatment for suspected pneumonia at Leeds General Infirmary.

Questioned by ITV News yesterday, Mr Johnson initially refused to look at the photo of Jack on the reporter’s phone before taking the phone and putting it in his pocket. 

Labour has made the future of the NHS at the heart of its campaign ahead of the election on Thursday, claiming it as risk after Brexit as the UK needs a trade deal with the United States.

Asked about accusations he was using the NHS as a political football on BBC Breakfast he said: ‘It’s an example of what’s happening in our NHS. And it is obviously awful for that little boy and the family, the way they were treated.

‘But it does say something about our NHS when this happened, and then all research shows there’s a very large number of hospitals where patients are at risk because of staff shortages, because of a lack of equipment, because of poor maintenance of hospital buildings.

‘It is a serious issue. It is a political issue, how we fund the NHS.’

The Labour leader insisted that funding of the health service was a ‘serious issue, it’s a political issue’ after he clashed with Boris Johnson over the care of a small boy

Asked about accusations he was using the NHS as a political football on BBC Breakfast he said: 'It has to be a political system, whether we have an NHS and how it's funded'

Asked about accusations he was using the NHS as a political football on BBC Breakfast he said: ‘It has to be a political system, whether we have an NHS and how it’s funded’

Questioned by ITV News yesterday, Mr Johnson initially refused to look at the photo of Jack on the reporter's phone before taking the phone and putting it in his pocket

Questioned by ITV News yesterday, Mr Johnson initially refused to look at the photo of Jack on the reporter’s phone before taking the phone and putting it in his pocket

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was dispatched to the Leeds hospital in an attempt to defuse the growing media firestorm.

However his appearance prompted further recriminations following claims his aide had been punched by a Labour Party activist.

Labour accused the Tories of ‘bare-faced lying’ after video footage of the incident posted online showed only the arm of a protester accidentally brushing against the aide’s face.

Meanwhile The Daily Mirror, which published the photograph originally obtained by the Leeds Evening Post, carried a fresh picture of a nine-month-old baby girl who was forced to wait on a chair for six hours at the Countess of Chester Hospital near Ellesmere Port because there was no bed available. 

But Justice Secretary Robert Buckland came out to bat for the PM today, insisting that the election ‘should be fought upon the high ground and the big issues’.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘That particular story yesterday was one of those occasions where I think everybody was dealing with a very fluid situation.

‘I note that the family of the young lad concerned want their privacy to be maintained, they don’t want the issue to be used as some sort of political football and I think we need to respect that and remember that this a General Election fought upon – should be fought upon the high ground and the big issues, rather than ending up in a sort of argument about who said what to whom.’

Asked about A&E waiting times, he added: ‘I think to glibly say that we have failed actually is rather insulting to all the hard-working people in our NHS who work day and night in A&E and other departments to provide a first-class service, the truth is that… demand in the NHS continues to grow.’