NHS boss David Nicolson should resign over Mid Staffs, says Unite

NHS supremo Sir David Nicolson should resign for his role in failing to tackle the abuse of patients at Mid Staffordshire, highlighted by the Francis Report, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Wednesday, 6 February).   

Unite national officer for health Rachael Maskell said: “Robert Francis’ report is to be warmly welcomed and embraced, with its 290 recommendations, that so strongly reinforces the case that patient care is central to the ethos of the NHS. 

“Sir David Nicolson, who has thrown down the so-called Nicolson challenge of £20bn cuts, is not the person to lead the NHS into the world of patient-focused care as outlined by Robert Francis. 

“A complete overhaul of dysfunctional management in the NHS needs to happen as a matter of urgency and the first person out the door should be Sir David Nicolson, chief executive of the NHS Commissioning Board – perhaps, the most powerful person in the coalition’s new NHS. 

“In 2005, he was the regional NHS official who had the oversight of Mid-Staffs when the clinical failures were taking place. Later, as a NHS chief executive, he had accountability as to how the NHS responded as the scandal unfolded. 

“The words ‘buck’, ‘stopping’ and ‘here’ have a certain resonance. The recommendations of the Francis Report make his position untenable.” 

Unite welcomes the report, particularly the importance of whistleblowing on poor practice; the regulation of healthcare support workers; and hiding information about poor care becoming a criminal offence. 

Unite has already called for all NHS institutions to have an independent ‘patient safety officer’, so staff and patients can raise concerns without reprisal, and the setting up of a national intelligence unit to co-ordinate information about problematic trusts.