Man with no shame- Sir David Nicholson- calls to resign after misleading MPs

Calls for the resignation of Sir David Nicholson- the chief executive of the NHS, were growing after it emerged he misled MPs over how he dealt with a ‘whistleblower’.Man with no shame- Sir David Nicholson- calls to resign after misleading MPsSir David was forced to issue a correction over evidence he gave to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), after part of it was revealed to be untrue.

He had claimed that Gary Walker, former head of United Lincolnshire NHS Trust, had not identified himself as a whistleblower in a July 2009 letter to him. Sir David also told MPs that Mr Walker had not raised concerns about patient safety in the letter.

However, Mr Walker produced the letter in his own evidence to the Health Select Committee, which flatly contradicted Sir David’s account.

He told the MPs that he had “asked for protection as a whistleblower” in the letter, which also warned that patient safety could be compromised because he was “being forced to comply with targets”.

The letter, seen by the Telegraph, concludes: “I assume the Department of Health has a policy on whistle-blowing and would therefore like this letter to be considered in that context and not freely copied to the SHA [strategic health authority] or the local PCT [primary care trust].”

Mr Walker was sacked from his post in February 2010, for allegedly swearing in meetings.

He has always maintained the real reason was his refusal to bend to pressure from East Midlands Strategic Health Authority (SHA) to prioritise hitting waiting list targets. Mr Walker argued this would have endangered the safety of emergency patients.

He eventually received a £325,000 pay-off from the trust, on the condition he never talked about the dispute. Last month he broke the terms of that ‘gagging order’, resulting in him being invited to the Health Select Committee.

In the letter to Sir David, Mr Walker also claimed that he and David Bowles, the former chairman of the trust, had been the subject of “bullying and harassment” by the SHA.

Referring to the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which at the time was just unfolding, he added: “This is the behaviour that gave this country a mid-Staffordshire.”

The matter is important because Sir David is fighting to maintain his reputation in the fallout of the Stafford hospital scandal, in which up to 1,200 people died due to appalling care.

A culture of bullying, not admitting mistakes and slavish adherence to targets is now widely accepted to have led to the tragedy.

Mr Walker argues he was trying to bring to Sir David’s attention similar problems at United Lincolnshire and East Midlands Strategic Health Authority ( SHA), which oversaw it. At the time the SHA was run by Dame Barbara Hakin, who Sir David has just appointed as his deputy.


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