Presenters grimace as another minister tries to explain 50,000 nurses pledge

Matt Hancock appears on Good Morning Britain. Photograph: ITV.

Matt Hancock appears on Good Morning Britain. Photograph: ITV. - Credit: Archant

Health secretary Matt Hancock became the latest Conservative minister to give an agonising performance as he tried to explain how the Tories would introduce 50,000 nurses into the NHS.

The Tories have been criticised throughout the week for the pledge, which mostly appears to revolve around trying to convince the nurses to stay working for the NHS after considering leaving.

Nicky Morgan put in an excruciating performance on Good Morning Britain earlier this week, with Matt Hancock now also repeating the disaster.

Presenters Susanna Reid and Ben Shepherd turned their attention to the pledge, as Reid explained: "You have to forgive us for being slightly confused because we spoke to Nicky Morgan this week on the programme, who admitted 50,000 more nurses, would include 19,000 who already exist in the NHS which by any calculation means there are only going to be 31,000 more nurses."

But Hancock would not admit it. He explained: "No 31,000 new nurses, 50,000 more new nurses in total. Because some nurses do leave the NHS and I want to reduce the amount of nurses who leave the NHS and go work elsewhere. I want the NHS to be an even better place to work, and by reducing the people who leave you increase the number who are there. So by definition 50,000 more nurses."

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Hancock went on to claim that "Piers [Morgan] ad got muddled" by Nicky Morgan's claims earlier in the week.

But the presenters snapped back: "That's not fair, it's not just Piers."

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Shepherd went on to ask: "How can you describe them as more nurses, they're already there?" as Reid continued: "You're double counting them!"

But Hancock was unfazed. He said: "Because the commitment is to increase the total number of nurses who are currently working in the NHS from 280,000 to 330,000 - that's a 50,000 increase."

Reid interjected, telling him: "Why don't you just got the whole hog, and say 'we currently have 280,000 nurses, we're going to have 280,000 more, because we're going to persuade every single one of them to stay?"

The health secretary tried to real off the same explanation, before the presenters said "the numbers don't make sense to people".

"If they were to leave and then you improve the working conditions so they don't then you end up with more people at the end," continued the minister.

A frustrated Shepherd shouted back at the politician: "You keep them! You don't gain them, you keep them!"

It came as a group of nurses heckled Boris Johnson over his pledge, claiming he had found a "nurses tree" as well as a "money tree".

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