NHS chief 'must go' over hospital horror: Relatives of patients who died demand his resignation
Probe into deaths at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust
Public inquiry will say trust run under culture of fear, bullying and secrecy
Daily Mail Reporter
11:55 GMT, 6 January 2013
02:04 GMT, 7 January 2013
The head of the NHS is facing calls to resign over his role in one of the worst hospital scandals in history.
Sir David Nicholson helped appoint the chief executive who presided over Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust at a time when up to 1,200 patients died through neglect.
He is one of numerous executives who prospered despite their links to the scandal, described yesterday by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as a ‘shocking betrayal of NHS founding values’.
Scandal: A public inquiry will to recommend hospitals are fined or closed if they cover-up blunders in the wake of the tragedy at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which was responsible for the deaths of up to 1,200 patients
Today Sir David, who was appointed chief executive of the NHS in 2006, earns more than 200,000 a year.
Between 400 and 1,200 patients are thought to have died at Stafford hospital from 2005 to 2008, with some left so thirsty they were forced to drink water from vases next to their beds.
Later this month a report will call for sweeping changes to the Health Service to ensure such a disaster cannot happen again.
It will describe a ‘culture of fear’ at Mid Staffordshire, which runs two hospitals, Stafford and Cannock Chase, with managers more obsessed with meeting targets than protecting patients.
In January 2006 Sir David, at the time head of a regional health authority, was on a panel of NHS managers that interviewed Mr Yeates and appointed him as full-time chief executive of the trust.
The decision was made even though Mr Yeates had no formal management training. He resigned in 2009 and received a reported 400,000 pay-off.
But the career of Sir David – a member of the Communist Party until 1983 – has blossomed. He was also recently appointed chief executive of the NHS Commissioning Board, a new body that will oversee hospitals and GP services.
Although he is expected to be heavily criticised in the forthcoming report, it is unlikely that he will be sacked as he is such a powerful figure in the Health Service.
Arthur Peacham, 68, (left) died of C.difficile at Stafford Hospital after being left
on filthy wards. Joan Giles, 81, (right) died after suffering severe bed sores
But relatives of patients who died say he must resign or be sacked because his position is untenable.
Julie Bailey, who helped expose Stafford hospital’s failings following the death of her mother Bella and started the campaign group Cure the NHS, said: ‘Our relatives suffered at the hands of these professionals. Nobody spoke out and nobody was there to protect them.’
Not a single nurse or doctor working at the hospital at the time has been struck off.
The Mail understands that 37 nurses were referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, but 25 were not deemed to have done wrong. Another 11 are still having their cases considered by the watchdog, nearly five years later. One was handed a three-month suspension, but she was already planning to retire.
While 41 doctors were referred to their regulator, the General Medical Council, not one has yet been struck off.
The failings at Mid Staffordshire emerged in March 2009 in a report by the Healthcare Commission which described how sick and dying patients were ‘routinely neglected’, ‘inhumanely treated’ and ‘bullied’.
Its findings prompted a public inquiry lasting two years, chaired by Robert Francis QC.
He will present his findings later this month and is expected to call for sweeping changes to the NHS, including better regulation of managers and an overhaul of nurses’ training.