Pressure is rising on Sir David Nicholson

At last – some will say – MPs have begun to put their heads above the parapet and call for the resignation of the Chief Executive of the NHS in an Early day Motion today. David Nicholson was the man with whom the buck should have stopped when he was chief of the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority which had oversight for the Mid-Staffs NHS Trust. His obsession with finance and apparent indifference to quality of care are what campaigners say make him culpable, not a ‘scapegoat’ who takes the blame when innocent.

Charlotte Leslie MP in the Telegraph is quoted as saying:

“There has been a thunderous silence around the NHS and Mid Staffs scandal, and relatives of those who died needlessly have been screaming into a vacuum for those in positions of authority who were responsible to be held to account.”

She also said that any former ministers and officials responsible for what happened at Stafford hospital should “face the consequences”.

She added: “Those involved must be held accountable for their actions and face the consequences. David Nicholson was then over-all in charge of Mid Staffs. In no other walk of life would a man who had overseen such a diabolical catastrophe keep his job. So why should he be immune from responsibility? If talk of accountability is to mean anything at all, he must surely resign.”

The challenge for the government is that Sir David was personally chosen by the Prime Minister to be in charge when panic set in at Downing Street over Andrew Lansley’s reforms. Lansley’s Bill was largely about freeing up the NHS to make its own decisions. By the time the Act was passed, many freedoms had been curtailed and the man with the iron grip (Sir David) was there to command and control – especially the finances –  as before. There is no doubt that if he goes there will be a power vacuum; much of the top talent that was around him has already left for the private sector. However there are brilliant people in the NHS who remain totally committed to high quality care, who maybe aren’t as imposing, but who command respect and have a vision for a service that will once again be the envy off the world.

The public want to see that the government is taking the Francis Report seriously. The tireless campaigning of @curetheNHS, Julie Bailey, Dr Heather Wood @heatherawwood @joinedU1, Dee Speers  deserves a response that will show patients everywhere that NHS culture will change, because those who show indifference will be shown the exit.


About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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