“They are worried about cost, but all I would say is that – yes, this will mean that we train more doctors, but for every additional doctor we train that is one less locum that we are having to hire in our hospitals.”
He added: “We spend about 6 billion pounds a year on locums… far too much money and locums are not good for hospitals, are not good for patients because you don’t have that continuity of care. So this will be a tiny fraction of that amount.”
The debate on the funding comes after Monday night’s crunch vote on the social care cap, which saw ministers see off a Tory revolt.
No 10 sees off Tory revolt to social care cap amendment
The Prime Minister narrowly succeeded in getting MPs to back his new policy to cap care costs in England, but his majority was slashed.
Ministers were unable to say whether the change to the £86,000 cap on care costs would fulfil an election pledge to guarantee no-one would have to sell their home to pay for care.
Backbench Tory critics joined experts and Labour MPs in warning that the move to count only individual payments towards the cap, and not local authority contributions, would cost poorer recipients more in assets than the wealthy.
MPs backed the amendment 272 votes to 246; a majority of 26.
However, the Prime Minister’s working majority of around 80 MPs was slashed, as 19 Conservatives including former Cabinet minister Esther McVey and ex-chief whip Mark Harper rebelled to oppose the plans. While another 68 Tories did not vote for the amendment at all, either because they abstained or could not vote.
Mr Hunt was among the Conservatives who abstained, arguing that he felt “conflicted” because although the cap was an improvement on the current situation, it was less generous than had originally been expected.