Andy Burnham backs NHS boss David Nicholson

Sir David Nicholson Sir David Nicholson has been chief executive of the NHS for the past six years

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has said NHS boss Sir David Nicholson should remain in post.

Sir David has come under pressure to resign as chief executive of the NHS following the public inquiry into the failings at Stafford Hospital.

He was briefly the boss of the Regional Health Authority overseeing the hospital while death rates were high.

Mr Burnham said David Cameron had been right to defend Mr Nicholson and it was "important to see the overall context".

Campaigners have called for Sir David to quit his £270,000 post, which he has held for six years, following the public inquiry into the failings.

'Lessons to learn'

The Francis Report found abuse and neglect led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of patients at the hospital between 2005 and 2008.

Conservative MP Charlotte Leslie has tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling for Sir David to resign because he "had overall responsibility for Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust during the period investigated in the Francis Inquiry".

She is calling for a full investigation into what he knew about what was happening at the time.

Following the publication of the report into the scandal, Prime Minister David Cameron backed Sir David, saying he should not be "made a scapegoat for what went wrong in Mid Staffordshire".

"He has apologised. He has said there are lessons to learn. He wants the NHS to learn them," Mr Cameron said.

Asked about about his view on whether Mr Nicholson should continue in his role, Mr Burnham said: "The prime minister has said what he wants to say on David Nicholson and I think he is right.

"Everyone has got to look at the Francis Report, absorb its findings and take appropriate action and I think everyone has got lessons to learn.

"As far as I could see the report didn't say that anybody knowingly ignored warnings.

"The NHS overall, if you think back to where waiting lists were 10 years ago, where A&E was, the NHS has made big improvements but its not perfect and things sadly go wrong from time to time. I think it is important to see the overall context."

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