Man with no shame Sir David Nicholson is partly to blame for Mid Staffs- Jeremy Hunt
The man with no shame- Sir David Nicholson does “bear some responsibility” over the scandal at Mid Staffs hospital according to Jeremy Hunt.Speaking in the Commons during a debate on NHS accountability, Mr Hunt, the Health Secretary, became the most senior Government figure to admit that Sir David, the NHS chief executive, was partly at fault for the failings that led to Mid Staffs, where up to 1,200 patients died needlessly.
It comes after it emerged that senior Government figures are considering a plan for Sir David to “pre-announce” his retirement.
Sir David would then step down later this year or early in 2014, having managed the NHS through the first months of major Coalition reforms starting next month
Sir David is under intense political pressure over the Mid Staffs hospital scandal. A public inquiry into Mid Staffs led to calls for his resignation.
David Cameron has backed him to remain in his post, and this week sent him supportive text messages, sources have disclosed.
Mr Hunt attempted to divert some of the attention away from Sir David by insisting the he does not bear “personal” for Mid Staffs and that the deaths there would have happened with or without the NHS chief overseeing the trust.
Speaking at a debate in the Commons on NHS accountability, Mr Hunt said that Sir David has “apologised” and that he has “been held to account”.
“David Nicholson has been the focus of much attention and as a manager in the system that failed to spot and rectify the appalling cases of Mid Staffs he does bear some responsibility,” Mr Hunt said.
“He said himself, ‘We lost our focus’. He’s apologised and been held to account by this House and many others.
“But I don’t believe that he bears total responsibility or indeed personal responsibility for what happened.”
Attempting to shift the focus of blame onto Labour ministers, Mr Hunt insisted that Sir David had warned figures in the last government that the “target” culture in the NHS was dangerous.
“He was at the SHA [strategic health authority] for 10 months during the period in question, overseeing 50 hospitals at a time when his main responsibility was the merger of three SHAs into one.
“And he consistently warned both ministers and managers the dangers of hitting the targets and missing the point. It is just not true that if there had been no David Nicholson at the SHA there would have been no Mid Staffs.”
Sir David is said to be resisting pressure to make some sort of concession to his critics by announcing his resignation.
However, there is a growing feeling among ministers and officials that he will have to make some sort of statement about his future.
Several ministers are known to believe that Sir David must go, and even others who sympathise with him believe his departure is inevitable.