NHS boss set to retire next year

Sir David Nicholson
Image caption Sir David Nicholson has led the NHS for the past seven years

The head of the NHS in England Sir David Nicholson is retiring next year.

Sir David has announced he will step down in March 2014 from his position as chief executive of NHS England.

He has spent seven years in charge of the NHS, but in recent months has faced repeated calls to resign over his role in the Stafford Hospital scandal.

He spent 10 months in charge of the local health authority in 2005 and 2006 at the height of the problems which led to hundreds of needless deaths.

Soon after that, he was appointed NHS chief executive, before taking charge of NHS England, the body set up under the government's reforms to take charge of day-to-day running of the health service.

Campaigners and MPs had called for him to resign after publication of the public inquiry into the failings, which involved the neglect and abuse of vulnerable patients.

The report published in February said the system has "betrayed" the public by putting corporate self-interest ahead of patients.

'Profound regret'

In March, Sir David, whose career in the NHS spans 35 years, told MPs on the Health Select Committee he was determined to carry on despite the furore over his involvement.

But in his letter to bosses announcing his retirement from the £211,000-post, he said "recent events continue to show that on occasion the NHS can still sometimes fail patients, their families and carers".

He went on to say "this continues to be a matter of profound regret to me".

He also said by giving such notice he hoped to give NHS England time to recruit a high calibre successor while continuing to give stability while the changes, which came into force in April, bed in.

NHS England chairman Professor Malcolm Grant praised his "exceptional" career and leadership in recent years.

"I should like to express my personal appreciation for all Sir David's support and guidance to date.

"And I know that I speak on behalf of the whole board when I stress how much we welcome Sir David's commitment to continuing to lead NHS England over the coming year in delivering on our challenging agenda."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt added: "Under Sir David Nicholson's leadership, NHS waiting times have fallen, infection rates reduced, and mixed sex accommodation is at an all-time low.

"His job has often been incredibly complex and very difficult, and yet he has always had a reputation for staying calm, and maintaining a relentless focus on what makes a difference on the NHS frontline."

But Julie Bailey, from the campaign group Cure the NHS, which has led the calls for the under-fire boss to resign, said that his position had been untenable since the publication of the public inquiry.

"It is fantastic news. This is the start of the cure for the NHS.

"We can start to look to the future now. He was part of the problem - not part of the solution.

"We now need a leader who will galvanise and inspire the front line, not bully them."

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