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Editorial Thursday 14 March 2013: Number 10 briefs a putative Nicholson exit in 2014

Today's Telegraph carries what looks very much like a Number 10 briefing that a plan has been hatched to liberate Comrade Sir David in 2014.

The knowledge of text messages from the PM to the Comrade-In-Chief is a bit of a clue.

Anonymous sources tell the PM's paper of choice, "there is obviously an appreciation that the head of the NHS cannot be attacked day in, day out by politicians and the relatives of victims as he simply cannot continue to get on with his job in that environment ... he hasn’t done anything wrong but it’s getting to the point politically and morally where someone has to be seen to have taken responsibility for Mid Staffordshire".

Another source added, "things can’t go on like this. The best way out of this would be for him to make some sort of announcement, but I don’t know if he’s ready to accept that yet ... we don’t want to make him a scapegoat, but the NHS is going to need new leadership in due course”.

This is not the first Number 10 health politics anti-briefing of recent vintage: remember the Lansley "should be taken out and shot" incident?

It has long been clear that Comrade Sir David is no longer bullet-proof.

It is now clear that the limits of the PM's willingness to take hits on the NHS for the Comrade-In-Chief have been reached.