Mystery Jets frontman Blaine Harrison has said Conservative Party leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt is the “worst thing that has ever happened to the NHS”.
The singer and guitarist, who has spina bifida, said that in recent years the National Health Service had become “something that needs to be fought for”.
Harrison said he had been spurred on to write about his experience of the UK’s public healthcare system after marching with tens of thousands of NHS workers against austerity in March 2017.
The 34-year-old added that the then-health secretary was a “big piece of the puzzle that has led to where we are now”.
Speaking to PA after performing for NHS workers at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London, he said: “Jeremy Hunt is the worst thing that has ever happened to the NHS.
“One of the points where I really had to wake up and have a real look in the mirror and think about what I could personally do – to use my position to fight for these causes – was at the NHS march in the beginning of 2017.
“When you think of a march, you think of maybe angry students.
“I went on the NHS march and 70% of the demographic was elderly people. I found that truly shocking.
“These were people from our parents’ generation left with no further option but to take to the streets and shout with megaphones.
“The health secretary at the time is a big piece of the puzzle that has led to where we are now.”
Spina bifida is a condition that develops during pregnancy when the bones of the spine do not form properly, creating a gap that leaves the spinal cord unprotected. It can cause paralysis of the lower limbs.
The indie rock band performed to around 120 patients, doctors and nurses in the Central Hall of the hospital, where Harrison has received treatment.
The four-piece played a stripped-back five-song set which included the “golden oldies” Young Love and Two Doors Down.
Harrison jokingly encouraged the crowd to start a mosh pit before describing St Thomas’ as “the Brixton Academy of hospitals”.
Guitarist William Rees quipped that The Vaccines should be next to play the space.
Harrison later said the NHS was worth protecting because it embodied Britishness and that, having experienced hospitals abroad because of his disability, its service was “second to none”.
He said: “It feels at the moment very much like the NHS is something that needs to be fought for.
“Whereas I think, growing up in the healthcare system in this country, it’s something that has always felt like part of our Britishness.
“Our inherent Britishness is the National Health Service.
“Now we are getting to a point where, if we are not careful, parts of it are going to be taken away.
“Parts of it are already being taken away. Contracts are being sold off to private firms.”
He added: “Without getting too political about it, I just feel that if I am going to get sick, I want to get sick in this country.
“I’ve spent time in hospitals around the world and the care you get in NHS hospitals is second to none. It really is.”