If the chief executives of trusts such as East Lancashire Trust, highlighted in the Keogh Review, did not improve hospital performance, they would be dismissed, Cameron said.
His comments ignored the fact that the Health and Social Care Act took away from ministers the power to remove leaders of NHS organisations as part of its commitment to ending ‘top-down’ management.
Cameron also stated that the ‘special measures’ were “all about” making the NHS “efficient”.
However, the Keogh review, which identified “ingredients” of the Stafford Hospital tragedy in 11 hospital trusts, was concerned with the negative impact on patient safety of ‘efficiency’ measures such as cuts in nursing staff.
The PM’s warning was given during a visit to Lancashire, where he was asked to comment on the ‘special measures’ imposed on East Lancashire Trust.
He said he was “confident” that the managers of the trusts in question would address the problems – but if they failed to do so, they would be dismissed. “Managers have to succeed or they have to be replaced.”
Cameron added: “The last government didn’t do enough to shine a spotlight onto areas of failure. A number of people have come forward to say that there was a culture of never saying anything was wrong.”
An East Lancashire Hospitals Trust spokesman said the PM had made no comment directly to the Trust.