Tonight’s meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs was dominated by calls for Sir David Nicholson to quit as NHS Chief Executive over the Mid Staffs scandal. Bill Cash, who was the MP for Stafford and now represents the Staffordshire seat of Stone, stood up and asked, ‘is there a single person in this room who thinks Nicholson shouldn’t go?’ Only one person indicated that they disagreed with Cash.
I understand that more than 10 MPs followed Cash’s lead and made the case that Nicholson had to go if accountability in public life was to mean anything. Those calling for Nicholson’s departure were emphatically not the usual suspects. Indeed, I understand that ultra loyalist Charlie Elphicke was one of them.
Andrew Lansley, following a question from Rory Stewart, set out why he had appointed Nicholson to be chief executive of the NHS commissioning board. He said that Nicholson was key to making sure that the NHS didn’t feel that the coalition’s health reforms were something that was being imposed on it. But those present say that Lansley was businesslike in his assessment of Nicholson rather than personally effusive.
Nicholson’s position is becoming more precarious by the day. Tory MPs have now put Downing Street on message that they don’t want him to be protected anymore.Tags: 1922 Committee, NHS, Sir David Nicholson, Stafford Hospital, UK politics