Earlier, I blogged that Tory MP Charlotte Leslie planned to raise concerns with the Prime Minister about Sir David Nicholson’s incorrect select committee evidence. She’s now written a letter, which I’ve seen, telling David Cameron that the NHS chief executive ‘must go with all speed’, and reminding the Tory leader that she has the backing of 60 colleagues. The letter is pretty strong stuff. It says:
‘I am deeply concerned that the man who currently leads the largest employer in the country has not only overseen a culture that has damaged our NHS, but has now given a false account to a Select Committee in this way. I know you are aware that wilfully misleading a parliamentary select committee is an offence for which one can be tried at the Bar of the House.
‘It is inconceivable that Sir David, in attending a PAC committee on whistle-blowing, would not know the facts about the most high-profile whistle-blower case in which he himself had involvement, and which the deputy he recently appointed, Dame Barbara Hakin, is accused of silencing the whistle-blower, Gary Walker. Therefore there are serious questions of integrity to be answered. If, however, Sir David was really aware of none of this, it draws such questions over his competence and memory that he cannot be a man to oversee crucial reforms.’
She adds that Nicholson’s letter of correction to the PAC ‘makes little difference to the key questions of integrity and competence as outlined above’ and that Nicholson must go ‘if the government is serious about its determination to herald in an ear of honest, transparency, and accountability into the NHS’.
Leslie isn’t the only one who is deeply unimpressed with Nicholson’s latest escapade. Stephen Barclay, the MP who questioned Nicholson about the Gary Walker in the PAC hearing, has also got in touch with Coffee House to say the NHS boss is ‘compounding one mistake on top of the other’. He says:
‘I specifically asked the question a second time because I was surprised that Sir David’s statement directly contradicted a letter I had seen. He was emphatic on both occasions when asked.
‘It is now clear he has made statements to a parliamentary committee which were completely untrue. In fact they were so untrue that he has now had to make a formal apology. Either he arrived at a parliamentary select committee woefully unprepared or he simply did not expect there to be any written evidence in the form of a letter sent to him in 2009 which contradicted what he said.’
Barclay also criticises Nicholson’s appointment of Hakin, and says ‘this just raises further questions about his judgement and the power he wields’.
Tomorrow’s PMQs will, as it always is on Budget day, be a muted event. But it’s highly unlikely that the Prime Minister won’t be pressed on this issue again. It will be interesting to see whether he sticks to his current line that Nicholson isn’t fully responsible.Tags: NHS, Sir David Nicholson, UK politics