Addressing the "seven-day'' working week on hospital doctors in England which caused some backlash earlier this year, Mr Hunt said he had been ``misinterpreted''.
Mr Hunt said: "We have been talking to the BMA (British Medical Association) for two and a half years now about seven day working.
"Hospitals tell us that the biggest single obstacle to be able to get the consultant cover that they need at the weekend is the opt out. We are only asking doctors to work up to one weekend in four, the same as nurses and paramedics.
"The vast majority of doctors already do some weekend work but if we are going to make sure that we reduce the avoidable deaths that we have at weekends that is one of the significant problems we have.
"I think that perhaps doctors misinterpreted what I said as being a suggestion that they don’t work weekends. That’s never been what I have been saying.
"But the reality is the BMA have been opposed to changing this contract and they were going to fight back in whichever way they could but I have made it very clear that we have to do the right thing for patients and the weekend mortality rates are exceptionally high."