Regret for NHS boss Sir David Nicholson on Stafford Hospital scandal

Outgoing NHS boss Sir David Nicholson has broken his silence over the Stafford Hospital scandal, admitting it was a ‘mistake’ not to speak with patients and their families.

Sir David Nicholson
Sir David Nicholson

Sir David said he ‘bitterly regretted’ not talking to campaigners such as Julie Bailey over the saga which has tainted his 36 years of service in the health service.

The NHS England chief executive said he avoided speaking to those affected because he did not want to be embroiled in a ‘media circus’. With just 26 days left in the post, Sir David spoke about a visit to the troubled hospital after a damning report into Stafford Hospital was published in 2009.

He said: “The biggest and most obvious mistake I made was when it became clear when the Health Care Commission reported on Mid Staffordshire and I went to the hospital and I didn’t seek out the patients’ representatives and the people who were in Cure The NHS, and I didn’t do it because I made the wrong call.

"There is no shortcut to understanding and talking to patients and relatives and people,

“I didn’t do it and then I got myself into a tangle of talking to people through the media, and that continues to be a very bad thing. That was a mistake that I made that I bitterly, bitterly regret.”

Julie Bailey, who set up the campaign group Cure the NHS after her mother Bella died at the hospital, said Sir David had ‘ample opportunity’ to speak to the campaign group but never chose to do so.

“It is very easy to say when he is leaving and looking for a consultancy role,” she added.