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NHS boss ‘regrets not speaking to Stafford Hospital patients’

Sir David Nicholson, the outgoing Chief Executive of NHS England says he bitterly regrets not speaking to patients and their families who were caught up in the Stafford Hospital scandal.

Sir David described it as his “biggest mistake” during his 36 years of service in the NHS, saying he had avoided speaking to those affected for fear of becoming embroiled in a media circus.

He told delegates at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester:

“The biggest and most obvious mistake that 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.”

Sir David announced he was stepping down last year after facing repeated calls to resign over his role in the scandal. Campaigners and MPs had called for him to resign after publication of the Francis inquiry into the failings, which involved the neglect and abuse of vulnerable patients.

The report published a year ago said the system had “betrayed” the public by putting corporate self-interest ahead of patients.

Sir David initially said he was determined to carry on, but in a letter announcing his retirement in May he said: “Recent events continue to show that on occasion the NHS can still sometimes fail patients, their families and carers.”

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