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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.’