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GP leaders back Sir David Nicholson

GP leaders have backed the head of the NHS, after calls for Sir David Nicholson to resign over the failures in care at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

They said the failings identified in the recent Francis report were systemic, rather than the fault of one individual, and that he should not be blamed.

Sir David, who in 2005 acted as interim chief executive of the health authority that oversaw Stafford hospital, where up to 1,200 patients died because of failures in care, has apologised for his handling of the case.

But campaigners have called for his resignation following the publication of the Francis report.

GP leaders have refused to join the calls. GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman, said blaming Sir David was not ‘useful’ and wouldn’t’ spark the necessary  change in NHS culture.

He said: ‘I don’t think it’s useful to blame leaders. If you’re trying to change a culture, you don’t change one individual. There are a lot of people to blame, pinning the blame on one individual will not achieve a culture change.’

Dr Michael Dixon, of the NHS Alliance agreed that the system was to blame: ‘It’s difficult being at the top. Staffordshire was a fault in the system, not of the system. It was inevitable given the fact that the health service had a strong hierarchy that was accountable to the centre.

RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada said that leaders should be held to account over the failings at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, but said Sr David should not resign.

She said: ‘Yes of course people should be held to account- it’s the last 20 years drive to marketise our NHS that has led to people not looking at the patients in front of them but at the metrics.

‘But really it’s all of our jobs. We’re all responsible. In the end I think Francis has identified that when you take your eye off the ball, away from patient care, then patients suffer.’

Readers' comments (35)

  • It's a shame if GP leaders have backed Nicholson. GPs may be out of Nicholson's direct firing command and control line but I should have thought they would have been aware that much of what has gone wrong in acute hospitals is down to too much power with unaccountable managers and a culture of fear promulgated by Nicholson, others in the DH and SHAs. A system doesn't exist in isolation from those at the top of it. Think again GPs, your patients lives depend on this culture changing.

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  • argh..when will our so called leaders stop buttering everyone up and show grit and teeth?
    the whole idea of paying leaders more is that they have more responsibility so if things go wrong 'systemically' they must accept the blame

    a GP

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  • Another case of 'it's not what you know, it's who you know'. Another case of so called GP leaders being completely at odds with the people they are supposed to be leading. I am not suggesting that there should be a public condemning of this man, but by the same token neither should there be a show of support if he is implicated in any way.

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  • There are those of us who know people who worked with him. They have very different opinions to those of 'our leaders' who probably did not. The culture was driven from the top. The responsibility may rest in a major way among those in that role and they should be called to account for their actions. The most striking thing in the series of interviews of NHS professionals on the Today programme was that the only interviewee who was prepared to speak without the 'voice-over' of an actor was the one who had left the NHS. That speaks volumes about the culture of fear and the promotion of image and the 'gagging clause' ahead of transparency and openness.

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  • Powerful people stick together - no surprises here.

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  • Sounds like a cosy agreement has been reached at the top. Both Nicholson and Hakin should be going as its their system and the problems happened on their watches in both their current and previous roles.

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  • The culture & behaviour had deteriorated to this unacceptable level to allow this number of deaths.
    No one had set the standards of behaviour & care required, let alone monitored to ensure they were maintained.
    All of this shows a lack of leadership. Probably among the worst you will ever come across.
    - That is why Nicholson must go ..

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  • If the leader is to responsible for systemic failures,then who is?
    David Nicholson cannot be credible is his current role and has to go.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Is it morally correct to say he should not be blamed?
    Is it politically correct to say he should not be blamed while 14 other hospitals are under investigations?
    So if the government and DoH should not be blamed, that will pave the way for Agent Hunt and GMC targeting managers , doctors and nurses?
    Interesting , cos this is exactly when agent Hunt said that he was surprised nobody had been struck off up to now!!!

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