In comments likely to provoke further anger from the profession Mr Hunt defended his decision earlier this month to impose the new contract on juniors following the collapse of negotiations and two days of strike action.
Speaking yesterday at the Nuffield Trust's policy conference in Surrey, Mr Hunt said it would have been the ‘wrong thing to do’ to step back from imposing a contract which the BMA says is unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors.
The latest ramping up of rhetoric in the ongoing row comes ahead of a 48-hour walkout by non-emergency junior doctors due to begin next Wednesday.
Junior doctor contract
Mr Hunt defended the imposed contract recommended by lead negotiator Sir David Dalton as a ‘mid point’ between the government and BMA’s positions, and said it would have been ‘a backward step’ not to accept it.
It would have 'sent a signal' to the rest of the NHS that one group is able to hold the governmment and patients 'to ransom' with 'completely unreasonable behaviour’, said Mr Hunt.
The junior doctor contract is only a part of what is required for a seven-day NHS, added Mr Hunt, as well as a seven day GP service and a consultants’ contract.
Mr Hunt added that making changes to the contract did not have to be as difficult as it turned out to be.