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NHS heading towards 'disaster'... says its chief executive

The chief executive of the NHS thinks the organisation is heading towards ‘disaster.’ It’s true, he said it and there were witnesses, hundreds of them.

By Ian Quinn

The chief executive of the NHS thinks the organisation is heading towards ‘disaster.' It's true, he said it and there were witnesses, hundreds of them.

Clinical directors from across the NHS yesterday heard David Nicholson predict the organisation would sleepwalk its way into oblivion, possibly with the results being an end to free healthcare for all.

Rather than use the combined talents of primary and secondary care medical leaders to plan how to negotiate the way down when NHS finances fall off a £20bn cliff in a couple of years time, Mr Nicholson suggested a more likely scenario, as he addressed the NHS medical directors conference in London.

‘We'll muddle through this year, muddle through next year and get to the end of next year and suddenly realise the money's run out,' he said.

Surely at this rate Mr Nicholson could be expecting his marching orders from Gordon Brown before coffee was served.

Had he lost the plot?

In fact, his speech was aimed at bringing out the bulldog fighting spirit - and the ideas - of those medical leaders in the audience who, rather unnervingly, responded with laughter when he told them it was down to them to ensure that his predicted plan B didn't ever materialise and said; ‘You're it really.'

Let's hope he is wrong and that the conversation later overhead between two of the more, erm, veteran medical directors in the room isn't a sign of what's to come.

‘I was a bit worried when someone said the big problem was dementia,' said one. ‘I thought, well, that's why we're retiring.'

David Nicholson: 'You're it really,' he told clinical leaders David Nicholson: 'You're it really,' he told clinical leaders

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