Matt Hancock was heckled by protesters as he visited a hospital in Leeds after the Tories came under fire over a sick child who had to sleep on a hospital floor .
The Health Secretary was dispatched to Leeds General Infirmary on Monday afternoon after Boris Johnson was criticised for refusing to look at a photo of four-year-old Jack Williment-Barr, who was pictured on the floor as he waited for a bed.
Jack’s mother Sarah Williment had taken him to hospital last Tuesday fearing he had pneumonia and while they waited, had covered him with coats to keep warm.
Mr Johnson came under fire on Monday after he took the phone of ITV News correspondent Joe Pike as he was being shown a picture of Jack, which he did not look down at.
Mr Hancock, who was dispatched amid the backlash, was filmed being heckled by protesters as he left the hospital on Monday.
He could be seen speaking on the phone and hastily entering a car as demonstrators shouted “shame on you” and “you are not welcome in this hospital, you are not welcome in this country”.
Speaking after the visit, Mr Hancock said he was “horrified” by the photograph of Jack on the floor of the hospital.
Mr Hancock told the BBC: “To tell you the truth, I was horrified.
“I have three small children myself. I have spent many evenings in A&E. I know what it feels like. I want to make it better.”
Asked what he would say to Jack’s family, Mr Hancock said: “It’s not good enough and I’ve apologised. I think the trust have handled it very well. The staff here have been brilliant.
“Jack’s family have been at pains to point out that the staff have been absolutely superb.”
Asked why he made the visit to the hospital on Monday when it was not on his schedule for the day, Mr Hancock said: “I’ve come because… I wanted to get reassurance from the trust that they’re doing everything they can. I’ve been very impressed with the response of the trust.”
After Mr Hancock’s visit to the hospital, reports also emerged that an adviser to Mr Hancock had allegedly been assaulted by a demonstrator as they left.
One video shared on social media showed a man, who was walking with Mr Hancock, walking into a protester’s arm as he was pointing. It is not clear if this is the incident in question.
Police did not confirm an alleged assault when approached by the Standard, but later tweeted to say it was attempting to verify the reports on social media. The hospital and Conservative Party have been approached for comment.
As reports of the alleged incident circulated on Twitter, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner tweeted: “I sincerely hope that no-one involved in Labour politics has assaulted any person as part of our democratic right to protest.
“There is absolutely no place for any form of violence verbally or physically & you harm your cause if you do,” she added.
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