Former boss tells MPs of NHS bullying

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The former boss of Lincolnshire hospitals has told MPs of a culture of “sheer bullying” in the NHS.

Gary Walker, the former United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust chief executive, appeared before the Government’s health select committee on Tuesday, where he said he was sacked in 2010 because of a row over an 18-week 
non-emergency waiting list target.

He told MPs he was forced to cancel 700 operations when hospitals were full of emergency admissions in 2009.

But he said he came under pressure from health executives to meet the 18-week target, whose response was “this is your problem – you need to meet targets whatever the demand”.

Mr Walker, who was dismissed in 2010 for “gross professional misconduct” after allegedly swearing in meetings, said: “It is a very dangerous thing to be trying to push through targets when hospitals are dangerously overfull.”

He told the committee there was “no proper management, just sheer bullying”.

Ex-chairman of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, David Bowles, also gave evidence to the committee, saying you can’t change the NHS “without changing its leaders”.

The evidence given by Mr Walker to the committee on Tuesday has led for renewed calls for under-fire NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson to resign after he was forced to admit he had given false information to MPs.

Mr Nicholson had claimed that Mr Walker had not identified himself as a whistleblower in a letter sent in 2009 and had not identified patient safety concerns at the trust.

But during his appearance, Mr Walker produced a copy of the letter which proved Mr Nicholson’s claims to be untrue.

He has since admitted his error and apologised.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust is one of 14 being investigated in the wake of the Mid Staffs scandal.