Nicholson warns huge debt crisis facing NHS after May 7

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JUST retired NHS chief Sir David Nicholson CBE has left the NHS with a pension pot worth almost £1.9 million, after earning a basic salary of £211,000 – when many think he should have been sacked, in the aftermath of the Francis Inquiry and report into the disaster that took place under his watch at the Mid-Staffs Foundation Hospital NHS Trust.

Nicholson was Chief Executive of NHS England until March 31st 2014. Before the formation of NHS England in April 2013, he was Chief Executive of the NHS from 2006. He previously held chief executive roles at NHS London, and three other regional health authorities, one of which from 2005-2006 included the Mid-Staffs Hospital.

There, with the support of the Blair-Brown Labour government, he drove on massive cuts so that the hospital could qualify for Foundation Trust status.

Decisions, including big staff cuts, resulted in patients being mistreated and subjected to appalling care from which many died.

Speaking to an audience of health professionals at the NHS’ annual health and care innovation expo in Manchester, he said he had made mistakes both in his role as NHS chief executive in 2009-10 and also when he was chief executive of the NHS’ West Midlands strategic health authority in 2005-06.

At the time, campaigners called for the under-fire boss to be sacked after the publication of the Francis report in 2013, but he would not go and the Tory led coalition would not sack him.

He stayed on as the head of the NHS.

He however knows a disaster when he sees one.

Now into his retirement, he has spoken out on the future of the service, no doubt trying to avoid the blame for another much bigger disaster that is being prepared.

He has just told the BBC that ‘the NHS is facing a substantial financial problem’.

He added that the NHS in England was accruing large deficits which would become ‘crystal clear’ later this year.

However, instead of talking about this huge crisis for the NHS, politicians were focusing on expanding services, a situation that caused him ‘very great concern’.

Nicholson revealed that because there was an election period, the NHS was unable to publish the latest report on its financial position, which meant that politicians could pledge what they liked without being called to account until after May 7.

Nicholson pointed to ‘a substantial financial problem, particularly in the hospital sector’.

He added that the NHS needed the £8bn pledged by the Tories and the Lib Dems immediately, and, speaking in national government mode, bemoaned the fact that Labour had not joined the two other parties in making this pledge.

Nicholson continued that politicians are talking about extra services when there was already a ‘financial hole’. He said that the planned NHS efficiencies of £22bn were a ‘big ask’ adding, ‘There is no healthcare system in the world that”s delivered this scale.’ However he encouraged ‘But you could get close’.

With his pension pot secure, Nicholson has delivered a useful warning and confirmation of what is to happen after May 7.

Then the huge financial crisis that the government has plunged the NHS into, will be brought to the fore and an emergency plan be brought forward for the government, or for even a national government, to save the NHS, by closing down scores of A&E’s, or selling them to the private sector, and for the bringing in of charges for seeing a GP or for gaining admission to an A&E Department.

This is what is on hand, just beneath the surface of the current election campaign.

The working class must be warned, prepared and organised to defend the NHS and its basic rights whichever government, coalition or national regime emerges. This is why the WRP is standing seven candidates.

The trade unions must be made ready to call an indefinite general strike to defend the NHS from the onslaught that Nicholson has just hinted at.

The trade unions must bring in a workers government that will nationalise the banks, the major industries and the drug companies to save the NHS and defend workers rights!