By Paul Goodman
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There's a great deal to be read between the lines of Steve Barclay's interview, posted earlier on this site, about Jeremy Hunt's announcement on NHS whistleblowers earlier today. Barclay welcomes Hunt's decision, and is right to do so. It's part of the Health Secretary's campaign to try to lead public anger about the failings of the system, and channel it in ways that have practical benefit for patients, and the whole NHS.
But Barclay, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, also asks some probing questions. He wants to know if the ban on gagging orders will apply to all cases, and if it will apply retrospectively those who've already signed such orders – adding that Parliament still doesn't know the total number of them.
Barclay also asks why David Nicholson has told him until now that such change isn't needed: what has changed his mind? The Cambridge MP has previously gone into print to ask who knew what, and when, about mortality rates in the NHS: "the most pressing of many serious questions that must now be answered is how
far the cover-up actually extends and what senior officials and ex Ministers
stand to lose if it is brought into the open."
Charlotte Leslie explores the same territory on this site today, and she is leading a Commons debate on the issue. I see the Telegraph is claiming that there are moves afoot to ensure that Nicholson steps down. Francis Maude has made it known that he believes that sooner this happens, the better.