The junior doctor who ambushed Jeremy Hunt live on TV today revealed he had been praised by his mother-in-law for making the Health Secretary “look like a rogue trader”.
Dr Dagan Lonsdale, 32, a specialty registrar in intensive care medicine, said he feared his decision to confront Mr Hunt near Parliament might backfire and harm the junior doctors’ campaign against “unsafe” new contracts.
He had just finished an interview with Sky TV when Mr Hunt appeared at the Millbank studios after telling MPs that he was imposing new contracts on junior doctors.
Dr Lonsdale, who works at St George’s hospital in Tooting, told the Standard: “I went away completely terrified, though the adrenalin was helping. I was a bit worried I was going to look like a bit of a fool walking after the Health Secretary, but I think it is telling he is just walking away from the questions.
“I spoke to my mother-in-law last night. She said it looked a lot like one of those episodes of Rogue Traders where the guy is just running away.
“My colleagues have mercifully been very supportive. Junior doctors are not slow in coming forward if they think you have done something out of turn. I was worried about people thinking it was the wrong thing to do.
“He [Mr Hunt] said he would meet with me later, probably to try to get me to stop asking questions. Channel Four News have said they would have us. We have got a venue – all we need is a Health Secretary.”
A spokesman for Mr Hunt today said that she, not Mr Hunt, had offered to speak with Dr Lonsdale later and insisted the Health Secretary had not agreed to a meeting. She said the pair had debated on the BBC Today programme last year.
Today the British Medical Association said there would be a “period of reflection” before it decided its next move. Last year’s ballot of doctors allows it to call further strikes.
Junior doctors’ leader Johann Malawana said tweeted: “Just to be clear, we have an open mandate and we are now considering how to use it. Nothing is off the table.”
Mr Hunt today came under attack from another junior doctor who said he was the only medic looking after 100 cancer patients on a shift.
In a Facebook post, which has been shared almost 26,000 times, Rich Bowman, 27, from Birmingham, said “screw you Jeremy Hunt” as he described looking after acutely ill patients.
He said: “Last night I was the sole doctor on site caring for over 100 patients who were acutely unwell with complications from their cancer. Some couldn’t breathe, some were fighting overwhelming infections with literally no immune system, one had bleeding in their head, one had a blockage in their bowels.
“If I made a mistake because I was tired, any one of these patients could’ve died.”
Mr Bowman, 27, said he works 60 hours a week but is paid for 48 and earns £18 per hour.
“Apparently I lack vocation, I’m overpaid and I need to work harder,” he said. “Screw you Jeremy Hunt…you’ve picked a fight with the wrong crowd.”