By Paul Goodman
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I wrote on this site last week that the Mid-Staffs hospital horror requires the resignation of David Nicholson, and Jeremy Hunt replied that the NHS Chief Executive has apologised – "and now Labour must too. The Sun claims today that Francis Maude has urged the Prime Minister to dismiss Nicholson, and notes that the Cabinet Office refused to comment on this claim when asked.
The Mail reports that "yesterday it emerged Mr Maude has argued for weeks that Sir David’s departure is necessary if accountability is to mean anything in the public sector", and reports that "a Cabinet source" as saying: "Francis Maude has been one of the voices telling No10 that Nicholson should go, from the point of view of civil service accountability more than anything else."
Steve Barclay, Charlotte Leslie and Sarah Woollaston – who writes in todays Telegraph that David Cameron's team is too white, male and privileged – have set out a similar view. Leslie has tabled an Early Day Motion saying that Nicholson should resign. 25 MPs have signed it. Signatories incude Nicholas Soames, Bill Cash, Philip Davies and Mark Field.
The Whips will not be encouraging signatories and this will keep the number down. The Telegraph has prevously suggested that "several" Cabinet Ministers take the same view as Maude. I'm told that an MP health specialist told his colleagues last week that the Chief Executive is still in place "because he's the only person who understands in full how the health reforms work".