Boris Johnson grabbed a reporter’s phone and refused to look at a photograph of a four-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia, forced to lie on a hospital emergency room floor as he waited for a bed.
The UK Prime Minister was asked about the image – which shows a young boy with an oxygen mask, lying underneath a coat – by Joe Pike, a political correspondent for ITV news.
In a video posted to Twitter on Monday, Pike repeatedly asks Johnson to look at the image, which he attempts to show the Prime Minister on his phone.
Johnson repeatedly refused to look at the photo when asked to, and then grabbed the journalist’s phone and pocketed it.
“Tried to show @BorisJohnson the picture of Jack Williment-Barr. The 4-year-old with suspected pneumonia forced to lie on a pile of coats on the floor of a Leeds hospital. The PM grabbed my phone and put it in his pocket,” Pike tweeted.
Four-year-old Jack Williment-Barr was rushed to a hospital in Leeds, northern England with suspected pneumonia on December 3, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported.
His mother told the paper that her son was left in a clinical treatment room for more than four hours because of a shortage of beds.
When first asked if he had seen the image, Johnson said he had not, but had been “told about it by the BBC.”
“Obviously we have every possible sympathy for everybody who has a bad experience in the NHS. That’s why we’re putting a record investment into the NHS now,” Johnson said, before beginning to speak about new investment in police and the health service.
When pressed again by Pike on how the image made him feel, Johnson responded: “I haven’t had a chance to look. I’ll study it later. If you don’t mind, I’ll give you an interview now,” before again beginning to speak about investment in the National Health Service and Brexit deadlock.
Pike then accused the Prime Minister of having taken his phone, and once again asked him about the image.
“You refuse to look at the photo, you’ve taken my phone and put it in your pocket, Prime Minister. His mother says the NHS is in crisis. What’s your response to that?” he said.
Johnson then put his hand in his pocket, took out and looked at the phone, saying: “I’m sorry, look. It’s a terrible, terrible photo, and I apologize obviously to the family 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.” He also apologized for taking the phone.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, responded to the interview, tweeting: “He doesn’t care.”