Boris Johnson refused to look at a picture of a little boy sleeping on a hospital floor when a reporter showed it to him on his mobile phone.
Instead, the prime minister was filmed putting the reporter’s phone in his pocket when he was confronted with the shocking image of Jack Williment-Barr, four.
Mr Johnson was being interviewed by ITV News political correspondent Joe Pike when he was asked to look at Jack as he waited for a bed at Leeds General Infirmary.
Jack’s mother Sarah Williment, 34, had taken him to A&E last Tuesday with suspected pneumonia, and covered him in coats to keep warm as he lay on the floor of the emergency room.
The PM did not look down at the photo on Mr Pike’s phone, instead saying he would ‘study it later’ as he attempted to steer the conversation on to Tory investment in the NHS.
In a clip of the interview posted on Twitter, Mr Pike said to Mr Johnson: ‘You’ve refused to look at the photo, you’ve taken my phone and put it into your pocket Prime Minister.
‘His mother says the NHS is in crisis, what’s your response?’
Eventually the PM pulls the phone out of his pocket and looks at the screen, adding: ‘Look, sorry, it’s a terrible terrible photo and I apologise obviously to the families and all those who have terrible experiences in the NHS.
‘But what we are doing is supporting the NHS and on the whole I think patients in the NHS have a much much better experience than this poor kid has had.
‘That’s why we are making huge investments into the NHS and we can only do that if we get Parliament going.’
He ends the interview saying: ‘I’m sorry to have taken your phone, there you go.’
Mr Johnson was later quizzed on the interview after giving a speech at the Fergusons Transport factory in Washington, Sunderland.
He said: ‘I am very proud of what we are doing to rebuild Leeds General Infirmary, it will be one of the hospitals we rebuild from the beginning, and I think that will be transformative for the NHS.’
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘Refusing to even look at an image of a child suffering because of Conservative cuts to the NHS is a new low for Boris Johnson.
‘It’s clear he could not care less.
‘Don’t give this disgrace of a man five more years of driving our NHS into the ground. Sick toddlers like Jack deserve so much better.’
Earlier, Mr Johnson apologised to ‘everybody who has a bad experience’ in the NHS after Jack’s story emerged.
Jack, four, was given an oxygen mask by overstretched staff after being told Leeds General Infirmary had no free beds.
His mum Sarah, 34, said her son was eventually moved to a ward on a trolley where he spent five hours before a bed was found at 3am.
She told the Yorkshire Evening Post Jack was finally given a bed more than 13 hours after he had first arrived at A&E.
Diagnosed with flu and tonsillitis, Jack was allowed to be taken home at lunchtime the next day.
Asked about the incident during an interview on LBC, the prime minister said: ‘Of course I sympathise very much and I apologise to everybody who has a bad experience.
‘By and large I think the NHS do an amazing job and I think that they deserve all praise for the service they provide – but they do need investment and that’s why we’re doing it now.’
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