NHS boss Sir David Nicholson has become the latest health chief to duck responsibility for former head of NHS Croydon Caroline Taylor. Sir David, chief executive of NHS England, said he had "no powers" to compel Ms Taylor to answer questions about ta £28m mismanagement of the trust's finances. He claimed not to have the authority to intervene because she was no longer employed by NHS Croydon, which was replaced by Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group in April. The response appears to end all hope that Ms Taylor can be compelled to explain what happened. The ball was in his court after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told a committee set up to investigate the scandal that it was not his responsibility either. The Joint Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) wrote to Mr Hunt in May and asked him to compel Ms Taylor to give evidence after she refused to cooperate with their investigation. In his reply, received last week, he said there was no "accountability line" from chief executives of primary care trusts (PCT) to the Secretary of State. The "accounting officer", he said, was Sir David. After being contacted by the Advertiser this week, a spokeswoman for NHS England said: "As the Secretary of State's letter makes clear, the regulations relating to overview and scrutiny committees do not give them the power to compel former employees of health bodies to attend meetings. "Sir David, who is now Chief Executive of NHS England has no powers to compel Caroline Taylor to attend the Croydon overview and scrutiny committee." Mr Hunt said new guidelines would be issued as a result of the JHOSC report, including extra powers to call witnesses currently employed by the NHS. Its review, set-up by six local authorities in south west London, was prompted by NHS Croydon posting a £5.5m surplus in 2010/11 when it was later revealed to have overspent by £23m. Its report, published earlier this year, found the misspending had been deliberately hidden. Ms Taylor, head of the trust at the time, was among a number of key figures who refused to appear before the committee. She earned £145,000 a year as head of NHS Croydon and went on to be administrator at the now dissolved South London Healthcare NHS Trust. JHOSC chairman Jason Cummings said: "I'm disappointed by Sir David's response and I'm very surprised there is no one within the management structure of the NHS, or the government, who is willing to take responsibility for Ms Taylor. "I think she should come forward and say what went wrong."
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