Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

NHS boss: I'm determined to stay on

Sir David Nicholson gives evidence to the Commons Health Select Committee on the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust
Sir David Nicholson gives evidence to the Commons Health Select Committee on the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust

Under-fire NHS boss Sir David Nicholson says he is "absolutely determined" to stay in his job despite admitting failures over the Stafford Hospital scandal.

Sir David said the "NHS lost its focus" and he conceded that he "was a part of that".

But he again rebuffed calls for him to resign, saying he wanted to lead the NHS through coming health reforms.

Campaigners said that Sir David should be sacked following the publication of the Francis Report into serious failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. He was in charge of the regional health authority for 10 months between 2005 and 2006 - the height of the failings in care at the trust.

Giving evidence to the health select committee, Sir David said: "During that period, across the NHS as a whole, patients were not the centre of the way the system operated.

"For a whole variety of reasons, not because people were bad but because there were a whole set of changes going on and a whole set of things we were being held accountable for from the centre, which created an environment where the leadership of the NHS lost its focus. I put my hands up to that and I was a part of that, but my learning from that was to make sure it doesn't happen again."

But he told MPs that the local health authority had "no idea" about the serious care failures at the trust - where patients were routinely neglected and as many as 1,200 could have died needlessly as a result of maltreatment and neglect.

Patients were left lying in their own urine and excrement for days, forced to drink water from vases or given the wrong medication.

Prime Minister David Cameron said last month that Sir David was doing "a very good job" at the head of the NHS and should not be made a "scapegoat" for the failings at Mid-Staffordshire. Following the hearing, his official spokesman said that this remained the PM's view, telling reporters: "He stands by his words."

A cross-party group of backbenchers including Tory Sarah Wollaston - one of those who grilled Sir David - has been granted a Commons debate next Thursday on Accountability and Transparency in the NHS. Posting on Twitter, Dr Wollaston wrote: "Parliamentary debate agreed on 14th re #Francis #midstaffs & #Nicholson; will former ministers account for their roles? #notholdingmybreath."

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