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The Chair of the NHS Commissioning Board, Professor Malcolm Grant, today (Thursday) made the following statement at the organisation’s public board meeting held in Manchester.
“I want to make a statement about the Chief Executive. We stand at the moment poised at the commencement of one of the great momentous changes in the NHS. We will see the abolition of 161 statutory bodies and the creation of 211 new clinical commissioning groups.
“But this isn’t just a structural change. This is about a change in culture, it’s about a devolution, it’s about unleashing the power of commissioning – perhaps for the first time in the history of the NHS. It’s a complex, a hugely complex institution. The NHS treats in the order of 1 million people a day. There is no other organisation on earth with that reach and with that complexity, and with that function of being a remarkable, not just healthcare organisation but social support organisation that goes to the very heart of British society.
“The wakeup call that the Francis report has given us has drawn attention to numerous failings within the NHS – not just within Mid Staffs, but of a system which has from time to time focused upon the wrong things and has had dire consequences for those who have been unfortunate enough to be adversely affected by it.
“There has been a search amongst many people who suffer a sense of dismay and shock from the events that have been disclosed by Francis’s report – a search for accountability and in particular a focus upon the work of David Nicholson who through much of that period was a senior executive in Strategic Health Authorities. Indeed he held, because of the turmoil of reorganisation of that day, he held no fewer than seven jobs in six years within the NHS – culminating in his appointment in 2006 to be the Chief Executive of the NHS.
“David’s current formal position is that until 1 April he is employed 50% by the Government as Chief Executive of the NHS, and 50% by us, the Commissioning Board. With effect from 1 April his employment transfers 100% to the Commissioning Board. I have been deeply worried by speculation in the media about his future. Over the recent weeks I have reflected on several occasions with David about what has been said in the press. I have discussed it personally with each of the Directors of the Commissioning Board and I have discussed it collectively with the Non-Executive Directors of the Board.
“We have come to a clear view that David Nicholson is the Chief Executive of the Board. He is the person who we wish very strongly to lead a strong Executive Team on the Board. He is the person whose command of the detail of the NHS and his commitment and his passion to its future, we believe to be fundamental to the success of the Board. This is not, as it were, a statement of vulnerability but a statement of strength. We look David to you, to provide us with the leadership as we take through this exceptionally challenging set of changes. Thank you.”