Families of those who died at Mid Staffs hospital slammed "shameful" attempts by bull-headed NHS boss Sir David Nicholson today to stay in charge.
The under-fire NHS chief executive said he was "absolutely determined" to continue to lead the health service during a parliamentary grilling by health select committee MPs over the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust
Mr Nicholson, who was in charge of West Midlands strategic health authority - which covers Mid Staffs - between August 2005 and April 2006.
He warned that the NHS was currently at "maximum risk" as controversial changes under the Health and Social Care Act are implemented throughout the country.
Despite calls for him to resign following the publication of the Francis report into the hospital's failings, Mr Nicholson said he intended to stay in his role to see the changes through.
The Francis report found that up to 1,200 patients may have died after they were "routinely neglected" at the hospital between 2005 and 2009.
Cure the NHS campaign group's Julie Bailey said after the hearing that Mr Nicholson's evidence was "shameful" and "embarrassing."
She said: "That man is an absolute disgrace. I think it's just laughable. He is desperate to carry on in his job.
"We need to get rid of him. Nothing will change. He is part of the problem, not the solution."
Ms Bailey set up Cure the NHS after her mother Bella died at Stafford Hospital in 2007.
Members of the campaign group demonstrated at a NHS commissioning board meeting, which Mr Nicholson leads, in Manchester last week holding placards reading "Resign" and "The man with no shame."
Health workers' union Unite also called for Mr Nicholson to resign.
The union's head of health Rachael Maskell said he "is not the person to lead the NHS into the world of patient-focused care."
Mr Nicholson apologised to the families "on behalf of the NHS and myself" during the hearing and said he regretted not having personally met Cure the NHS campaigners when they first raised concerns about standards at Mid Staffs.
Giving evidence to the committee, Mr Nicholson claimed he did not receive any information about high-mortality rates at Mid Staffs while head of West Midlands strategic health authority.
Mr Nicholson said he did visit the hospital during the time when problems were emerging but was not alerted to the problems of neglect and poor care.
Committee member Dr Sarah Wollaston later said that the health authority under Mr Nicholson's leadership had taken a "hear no evil, see no evil" approach towards mortality data.
She suggested that he should reconsider his position once he has steered the NHS through the transition period over the next few weeks.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.
George Osborne's advice from the International Monetary Fund is like the curate's egg - good in parts.
The government wants to ramp up Western involvement in the Syrian conflict but the cost will be more violence and instability in the region
PCS general secretary urges the trade union movement to step up the fight against the Tory cuts