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Express & Star comment: Failure is very well rewarded

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

In any organisation, when things go wrong it is the people at the top who must ultimately take responsibility.

Sir David Nicholson

This is particularly true when it comes to public service.

Yet time and time again we see instances where officials depart having presided over abject failure, only to walk straight into another high-powered – and highly paid – job.

It is little wonder that members of the public get so frustrated.

Sir David Nicholson is a case in point.

The 63-year-old was head of the West Midlands Health Authority for a period when patients were being mistreated at Stafford Hospital.

Regardless of whether of not he was suitable for the job, the records will show that he was in control at a time when the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust was embroiled in a scandal that the region is yet to recover from.

Inquiries into the fiasco revealed that hundreds more people died at the trust than would have been expected, while some patients were left in atrocious conditions and others were given the wrong medication.

It is unlikely that the full extent of the failings will ever come to light.

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While no one is suggesting that all of this was Sir David’s fault, he was certainly in charge for a period when things were going badly wrong at the trust.

But while the buck may have stopped with him, the job offers certainly did not stop coming.

Sir David went on to land the job of NHS England chief executive, before retiring with a pension pot of £1.9 million.

He is now back as interim chairman of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Kidderminster Hospital, on a part-time basis.

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Bosses have spoken about his ‘huge experience’, focus on improving patient care and financial management skills.

But none of this is going to help the people of the Black Country and Staffordshire, who have been left to suffer the consequences of the failure of Stafford Hospital.

That includes not having a nearby maternity unit or A&E department, causing additional strain on the already stretched resources at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton and Walsall Manor.

While our local health service is a shambles, those at the top seem to be able to walk from one well paid job to another.

It is alright for some.

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