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Editorial Tuesday 5 March 2013: Questions the health select committee should ask Sir David Nicholson

At 9.30 this morning, Comrade Sir David Nicholson will appear before the Commons health select committee in connection with their inquiry into Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Chair Stephen Dorrell is Click here for details of 'Francis is coming. Look busy!', the new issue of subscription-based Health Policy Intelligence.


The following questions might be good ones to ask.

1. What were your NHS jobs in the period 2003-present?

2. When you were chief executive of the Birmingham and Black Country, West Midlands South and Shropshire and Staffordshire Strategic Health Authorities, what was your line management relationship with Mid-Stafforsdhire NHS Hospitals Trust?

3. Does your accountable officer contract in a SHA CE job give you oversight responsibility for all non-FT NHS providers?

4. In what year did Mid-Staffs achieve FT status?

5. Who is legally responsible for the abusive and negligent care at Mid-Staffs?

6. Who has been held accountable for the abusive and negligent care at Mid-Staffs?

7. What political pressure was being placed on providers you oversaw to apply for FT status?

8. Do you accept the Francis Public inquiry report's conclusion that a radical change of culture is required in the NHS?

9. What evidence can you offer the committee that you are well-placed to lead that change of culture?

10. In 2007, you told NHS leaders to "Stop Kremlin-watching. Look out to your communities, not up to Richmond House". Did this change of culture happen?

11. Why not?

12. Since September 2006, during the period you have been chief executive of the NHS, how many NHS chief executives have made protected disclosures to you on issues of patient safety?

13. In the same period, how many clinicians have made protected disclosures to you on issues of patient safety?

14. In the same period, how many NHS staff have made protected disclosures to you on issues of patient safety?

15. What is the DH policy on dealing with a protected disclosure on the grounds of patients safety? Please send the committee a copy of the document.

16. 'Gagging' clauses over patient safety issues are clearly illegal, yet DH has been applying to the Treasury for its approval for such payments repeatedly over recent years. What is the process from employing trust to DH involvement in such cases?

17. Which staff in DH are involved in approving these applications?

18. How many non-disclosure agreements have been approved in each year since you became NHS chief executive?

19. Why did you appoint a director of communications for the NHS when the DH already had a director-general of communications in post?

20. How many of your senior management team at the NHS Commissioning Board were senior managers in the DH?