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Ottaway calls on Jeremy Hunt to explain NHS Croydon response

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RICHARD Ottaway MP has called on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to explain why no one has been held to account for the financial scandal at NHS Croydon. Both Mr Hunt and Sir David Nicholson, the outgoing chief executive of NHS England, have said they are unable to compel the former head of the trust to answer questions about a £28 million misreporting of its finances. Mr Ottaway has written to the Secretary of State to express frustration with his response and "outrage" that no one has been held responsible. He said: "I remain seriously concerned and angry about this situation whereby nobody seems to be responsible or indeed accountable for the loss of such a huge sum of public money." Mr Ottaway said it was "astonishing" that Ms Taylor had refused to give evidence and questioned whether she should continue to work in the NHS. After leaving her £145,000 a year job in Croydon, shortly before the misspending came to light, Ms Taylor went on to work for the NHS in north London, then as special administrator to the now dissolved South London Healthcare NHS Trust. She is now director of the South East London Commissioning Strategy Programme. NHS Croydon posted a £5.5m surplus in 2010/11 but it was later revealed to have overspent by £23m. An independent investigation, commissioned by NHS London, blamed system errors and said health services were unaffected . While it found no one at fault it revealed that interim finance director Mark Phillips has made "unwarranted adjustments" to the agreement of balances while reporting directly to Ms Taylor. A joint scrutiny committee, set up six local authorities in south west London, conducted its own investigation which Ms Taylor, and several other key figures, refused to cooperate with. It concluded that the misspending had been deliberately hidden and, in May, the committee wrote to Mr Hunt and asked him to compel Ms Taylor to give her account of what happened. A fortnight ago Mr Hunt replied that he did not have the power because she was a former employee of Croydon's primary care trust, which has since been dissolved. A week later Sir David said he too was unable to take action. Mr Ottaway told the Advertiser: "The law is the law and if Jeremy Hunt was advised that he doesn't have the power to intervene then we have to accept that, but it means the law is highly unsatisfactory and, frankly, incomprehensible. The law needs to be reformed. "Someone must be responsible. If it's not the management of Croydon's primary care trust then someone higher up the chain." Mr Ottaway added: "I find it astonishing that a senior civil servant is not prepared to assist in finding out what went wrong, to the point that I question whether or not that person is suitable to hold another position inside the NHS. "So I've asked Mr Hunt where the buck stops and I'm looking forward to hearing from him. "If I don't get answers pretty soon then I'm going to raise this on the floor of the House."

Ottaway calls on Jeremy Hunt to explain NHS Croydon response


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