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Strictly's Jacqui Smith hits back at claims she's 'abandoned' NHS job for show

By

staronline@reachplc.com (Katie Begley)

Strictly Come Dancing’s Jacqui Smith has hit back at criticism she’s abandoned her NHS job for the glitz and glamour of the BBC ballroom.

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The former Home Secretary is chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, whose staff are at breaking point trying to cope with the pandemic.

After appearing on Saturday’s launch show, Jacqui, 57, came under attack from a member of her own staff who said her appearance on the show was a “dereliction of duty”.

Haematologist Clare Gardner posted an angry message online criticising the former Labour MP for signing up to the show during a crisis, claiming she would “rather wear sequins than look after her charge”.

Jacqui has hit out against claims she has “ditched” her NHS job

But Jacqui, who has been paired with Strictly favourite Anton Du Beke, 54, says she has the full backing of her colleagues at the NHS Trust.

She said: “One of the jobs I do is working within the NHS, chairing a very big NHS trust and nobody has had it tougher than the people who are on the frontline in the NHS.

“When they heard that I was going to be on Strictly they were super excited and lots of people at the Trust said to me, ‘We’re so excited, we really feel proud and uplifted by the fact you are doing it’.

Jacqui is chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

“So I think the fact that Strictly is able to be on this year when all of us have had to miss out on doing lots of things, has made lots of people feel really optimistic.”

Jacqui’s not just facing a fight off the dancefloor, she’s got a battle to survive Saturday’s first live show as head judge Shirley Ballas has already admitted she looks nervous.

Jacqui admits she would be gutted if she got the boot in week one but says she can handle any criticism that comes her way and may even end up biting back.

She said: “The good thing about being a politician is you know what it’s like to be on the wrong end of democracy but please vote for me! Can I count on your support?

“Listen, I was an MP for 13 years, a minister for 10 years, I faced plenty of criticism in my time.

“I hope that I will listen and learn, but I have also argued for a living as well, so I may… well, let’s wait and see what happens!”

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