Cameron and Corbyn will go head-to-head in the House of Commons Getty Images

A heated exchange over the NHS and the junior doctors' dispute in England descended into a game of one-upmanship over motherly advice between David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs).

The party leaders were rowing over of the health service and the health secretary Jeremy Hunt's controversial decision to impose a new contract on the medics, until a Labour MP heckled Cameron and urged the Tory leader to "ask your mother".

The intervention was a reference to Mary Cameron signing a petition, which opposed government cuts to public services in Oxfordshire.

"I think I know what my mother would say. She would look across the dispatch box and she would say: Put on proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem," the prime minister swiftly retorted.

But Corbyn replied: "If we are taking motherly advice, my late mother would have said 'stand up for the principle of a health service free at the point of use for everybody'."

The bizarre back and forth came after the British Medical Association (BMA) announced its plans to hold another batch of industrial action in protest over Hunt's move. The union will also launch a judicial review in a bid to overturn the government's decision to impose the new contracts for junior doctors.

"Imposing this contract will seriously undermine the ability of the NHS to recruit and retain junior doctors in areas of medicine with the most unsocial hours, where there are already staffing shortages," a statement from the BMA claimed.

But Cameron defended the health secretary during PMQs and said the reformed contracts would help create a "genuine" seven-day NHS in England.

The prime minister also argued that Wales and Scotland had not experienced similar industrial disputes because their devolved governments had not tried to turn their systems into seven-day services.

BMA industrial action dates

  • 9 - 11 March 2016
    Emergency care only between 8am on Wednesday 9 March and 8am on Friday 11 March (48 hours)
  • 6 - 8 April 2016
    Emergency care only between 8am on Wednesday 6 April and 8am on Friday 8 April (48 hours)
  • 26 - 28 April 2016
    Emergency care only between 8am on Tuesday 26 April and 8am on Thursday 28 April (48 hours)