He said that data was not being measured in NHS hospitals that could have
shown that patients at the Staffordshire hospitals were at risk.
However, he admitted that there was a focus on targets and processes during
the time of the Mid Staffs scandal.
Sir David said that national targets meant that NHS managers had to
concentrate on issues like casualty waiting times and hospital “superbugs”
“During that period, across the NHS as a whole, patients were not the centre
of the way the system operated.
“For a whole variety of reasons, not because people were bad but because
there were a whole set of changes going on and a whole set of things we were
being held accountable for from the centre, which created an environment
where the leadership of the NHS lost its focus.
“I put my hands up to that and I was a part of that, but my learning from
that was to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Sir David denied that there had been no accountability over Mid Staffs and
said that many of those in charge at the trust have gone as a result of the
“It is not true to say that people weren’t held to account in the NHS,”
Sir David said. “They were.”
He insisted that he was held accountable by being asked to change the NHS as a
result of the Mid Staffs scandal.
“My accountability was very different from that, in the sense that I was
held to account for delivering the change, for delivering three SHAs
[strategic health authorities] into one, for moving 70 primary care trusts
into about 40, for making sure that all the organisations delivered what was
regarded as the must-be-dones, which is essentially access and MRSA and C
“That was narrow, and I accept that that was a narrow definition of
accountability, but that was the way it worked.
“It shows in Mid-Staffordshire, that that was a big failing in the whole
system and I was in that system and I was part of it, absolutely.”
Sir David also blamed a reorganisation of the NHS brought in by Labour in 2005
for the lack of accountability in the service.
“What you see is reorganisation on top of reorganisation on top or
reorganisation and what you get out of that is a confusion about
accountability and a confusion about who is responsible for what,” Sir
“At that particular moment, the leadership of the NHS had lost focus on
what was really important to patients.”
Sir David Nicholson admits failings over Mid Staffs but refuses to resign – Telegraph.co.uk
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