Former NHS manager on 'culture of fear and oppression'

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The former chief executive of an NHS trust which is being investigated for persistently high death rates has broken the terms of a gagging order to speak for the first time about his concerns over patient safety.

Gary Walker was dismissed from The United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust in 2010 and signed a non-disclosure agreement as part of his pay-off deal.

Mr Walker ran one of 14 trusts now under scrutiny following the inquiry into deaths in Mid Staffordshire. Last week, the inquiry into those deaths recommended that gagging clauses like the one Mr Walker signed should be banned.

Speaking to the Today programme's Andrew Hosken, Mr Walker revealed: "I was told I had to meet the targets whatever the demand... that's just dangerous."

"This is wider than just unlawful compromise agreements; this is a culture which is driven by the top... a culture of fear, a culture of oppression. If you consider that the people who have been running the NHS created that culture of fear, they need to either be held to account or new people need to be brought in to change that culture," he added.

A spokesman for the East Midlands Strategic Health Authority said it "refuted totally the allegations made by Gary Walker about the specific conversations", adding that Dame Barbara, former chief executive of East Midlands Strategic Health Authority, had acted in the interests of patients at all times.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday 14 February 2013.

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