Pressure builds on NHS boss Nicholson to step aside

Feb 7, 2013

New investigation into care at UK hospitals ups pressure on beleaguered NHS chief to step down

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PRESSURE is mounting on NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson to step aside after the release of new figures suggesting the "appalling lack of care" at the Mid Staffordshire hospital trust may be going on at other hospitals.

Within hours of the publication of a report describing the "disaster" at Mid Staffordshire as the worst scandal in the history of the NHS, new statistics were released last night confirming "excessive mortality rates" at five more NHS trusts. The Daily Telegraph points out that abnormally high rates were the "same warning sign" that exposed the "needless deaths" of up to 1,200 patients at Mid Staffs.

The new concerns about NHS trusts in Lancashire, Essex and Greater Manchester "pile pressure" on Nicholson, who has worked in the health service for 30 years and took the reins of the NHS in 2006. Prior to that, he was chief executive of the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority (WMSHA) which has responsibility for Mid Staffs.

The Telegraph says the 57-year-old was already facing demands to resign over his "failure to root out the problems at Mid Staffs" and the new data is certain to amplify those calls. Professor Sir Brian Jarman, an international authority on hospital performance, told the paper that problems in the NHS had been "ignored for too long" and it was time for Nicholson to step down.

"I think he should go," Jarman said. "The Francis Report [into Mid Staffs] is very good but the difficulty is the same people are running the NHS and the mechanism of denial is continuing."

The Daily Mail describes Nicholson as "the man with no shame" because he has steadfastly refused to quit in the wake of the damning report into Mid-Staffs. The paper says relatives of some of the hundreds of patients who died needlessly at Stafford Hospital have "called for his head", but Nicholson said yesterday he was "not ashamed" of his tenure in office.

The Prime Minister and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt have both said they had confidence in Nicholson's ability to stay in charge, the Mail reports. Cameron told the Commons yesterday it would be wrong to "scapegoat" Nicholson and said that he had "learned the lessons".

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Irma Grese. Elizabeth Volkenrath and Juana Borman could not have done better methinks. Talk about emulation.