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David Cameron under fresh pressure to sack David Nicholson after select committee blunder

19 March 2013

David Cameron is coming under fresh pressure to force out NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson this afternoon. The health boss has had to apologise to the Public Accounts Committee, after his evidence yesterday was directly contradicted by whistleblower Gary Walker’s testimony to the Health Select Committee today.

Nicholson told the PAC that Walker ‘didn’t identify himself as a whistleblower at that moment in time, nor did he raise with me any issues of patient safety’. But today Walker produced a letter which said ‘I assume the Department of Health has a policy on whistleblowing and would therefore like this letter to be considered in that context’.

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Nicholson’s letter of clarification to PAC chair Margaret Hodge, sent this afternoon, said: ‘I have now had the opportunity to review the correspondence and would like to confirm that when Gary Walker wrote to me in July 2009 he did indeed ask to be considered as a whistleblower.’ He added that he had commissioned an independent investigation into the allegations made by Walker.

Charlotte Leslie, the Tory MP who has been campaigning for Nicholson to go, tells me she is going to raise this with David Cameron as she believes this blunder shows that Nicholson is not fit to run the NHS. She says:

‘It’s either a really serious question of integrity, or it’s a really serious question of incompetence. It’s not something that he wouldn’t have researched because he was appearing in front of the Public Accounts Committee, which was looking at gagging orders and whistleblowing. It’s quite clear that he’s got to go.’

David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt haven’t shifted their positions at all on Nicholson in the past few days, preferring instead to talk about board members at the Trust and questions for the Labour party. But as Leslie argues, giving incorrect evidence to a select committee won’t help his bid to stay in the job.

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  • anneallan

    Let’s be charitable and just say that Cur David doesn’t appear to be on top of his game.

  • Tom Tom

    “after select committee
    blunder” ………..He lied.

  • Andrew Paul Shakespeare

    So what is simply intolerable, is utterly disgraceful that he cannot possibly remain in his job, is not presiding over the unnecessary deaths of 1200 people, but telling porkies to MP’s. Oh, the disgrace of it! How can the man sleep at night?

  • Curnonsky

    Blunder? Lie!

  • highlandjock

    This disgraceful New Labour apparatchik was appointed by them to boss doctors about——-he has absolutely no medical knowledge, yet is “boss” of the NHS. The NHS needs doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, radiographers et al, to treat and investigate patients, but only needs “managers” to run the “hotel” function of hospitals, NOT to decide medical priorities. It is high time this appalling “managerialism” was rooted out of the health service, and it returned to a proper health service, not an employment agency for third rate managerial bums.
    Get rid of this fellow ——NOW.

  • Barbara Stevens

    Stafford is not the only hospital that is going down the pan. My local hospital, which I have seen this past four weeks on a daily basis is nearing the same level of organised chaos as Stafford. Why? I’ll explain as simply as I can.

    On the 14.02.13 my husband went into hospital on emergency he was changing colour, had possible lack of movement in both legs, and his test proved mulitiple problems. On the 15.02.13 he was discharged. The following five days he was nursed by me a home, double incontinance, and loss of leg movement totally. I asked for help from the local Social Services, explained the situation, an assessment could take place in four weeks, and ‘do you have any money, and do you own your own house’ were the questions asked. I put down the phone.

    The GP who was informed thought he was still in hospital, he referred him back whence he came on the 20.02.13. This time he was admitted. After futher test, an MRI scan we were then told by the Consultant his condition was terminal, however, within the same sentence we were also told, ‘of course he cannot stay here, we need the beds’. This is British citizen, 44 years NI stamps to his name, and paid up taxes. Yet the very same hospital housed, fed, treated and illegal citizen the year before at a cost of £100,000 for free. I pointed this out, and refused to accept what they said. Take note, my husband at this point did not know is fate. A hospice was suggested. OK, but as I said the final decision would be my husbands not theirs. I refused to see him pushed and bullied into accepting what they wanted, he would choose where he wanted die. My local Conservative MP did respond and spoke the Chief Exe of the said hospital. He did have the right to the bed if he so wished. He chose the hospice.
    He died on the 13.03.13. His care within the hospice was wonderful and I shall be eternally grateful, but the hospital, dire.
    Detoxing alcolohics were on the same ward, his personal care was scrappy and poor, done by foreign health care assistants, who didn’t care on jot and filled in the hours to get their money, and certainly not for caring for sick people. His dignity was awful until I complained, in all this hospital is another Stafford waiting in the wings. We now see mortality rates are being targeted, this will of course mean elderly patients will be sent home, or pushed elsewhere to bring the rates down. There is no respect for eldery people, unless relatives are prepared to fight their corner, I have challenged them and will continue to do so. I kept a diary and it will be put into report form and sent to various people in this government and others. Its not nice reading. Watch this space.

    • highlandjock

      I am so sorry to hear your sad story, and sorry indeed for your loss.
      As a retired hospital consultant, I am appalled at the present state of the NHS. I have myself needed appointments and been told I will have to wait 16 weeks to see an ophthalmic surgeon for what is a very painful eye condition—–what a dreadful mess the “service” is in !!

    • anneallan

      What a heart rending story. I hope you have supportive family and friends around you.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Sack Nicholson, Sack Hunt, Sack Cameron

  • Tom Tom

    Nicholson was a Communist and has a Communist sense of Ethics

    • highlandjock

      And doesn’t he just look like one??!! A true bully boy.

  • Russell

    In addition to Cameron & Hunt not shifting their position on Nicholson, I believe the same is true of Clegg and Isabels hero Miliband. Even the disgraced Burnham & Johnson have supported Nicholson being in charge of the NHS!
    It is time to drag Burnham & Johnson in front of the select committee and show them up to be the disgraceful, incompetent ex Ministers of Health which they were, and demand Burnham resign his position as shadow health minister..

    • Barbara Stevens

      I agree, see my blog higher up. The past for weeks have been a living nightmare. Until you recieve such treatment and see it you won’t believe it, and believe me its happening daily. Nurses, many of them, are not the ones we remember of the past, now most are untrained HCA and foregners, cannot speak proper English and poor quality training. Even the ones who are registered sit and talk in nursing stations while bells ring, and to ask to speak to one they look at you as though your breaking the law. Believe me what I’ve seen and heard these past four weeks is terrible, God help us all if things do not change. I am a retired nurse so know what I’m talking about.

      • Joshuaatthewalls

        And for this appalling nursing they need Degrees

  • neverheardofit

    If the head of the BBC was given the push-then so shd Nicholson. Lacking in competence or integrity? Doesn’t matter which.

    • highlandjock


  • Stroudy

    How many more things can go wrong because of Cameron’s incompetence, and pigheadedness?

  • Colonel Mustard

    I simply don’t understand why Cameron’s regime appears to have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep New Labour’s placemen (and women) in place. He has been severely damaged by this foolish policy.

    • foxoles

      We Common Purpose types like to look after each other.

    • highlandjock

      You are so right. Nicholson was a New Labour apparatchik, appointed to do their bidding, and boss the professionals about, whilst knowing absolutely NOTHING about medicine. Truly a pathetic specimen, with no ability whatever in medical matters.

  • Linda Le Roux

    The select committee is a sham as far as I’m concerned. They all seem to be tiptoeing around the issues and I think Mr Walker was extremely convincing in his testimony. For goodness sake something needs to be done. David Cameron needs to get rid of Nicholson without delay.

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