THE head of the NHS has apologised for posting a spoof video mocking the under-fire health service data-sharing project and lampooning Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Sir David Nicholson, who is based at NHS headquarters in Quarry House, Leeds, was forced to say sorry to a senior colleague portrayed as Hitler in the latest of a long history of internet parodies based on a scene from the movie Downfall.
“Sorry this is what happens when you give an old bloke with an over developed sense of humour new tech,” he told Tim Kelsey, national director for patients and information.
“You’re doing a great job X”, he added on Twitter, where he had earlier created a significant stir by posting a link to the clip - subsequently deleted from his account.
Date of birth, postcode, NHS number and gender are to be included in the new care.data record which was due to be introduced by NHS England in April.
It has now been delayed until later this year after critics warned patients had been kept in the dark about how their data will be used outside the NHS.
Titled “Tim Kelsey discovers that care.data is in trouble”, the video has had more than 3,000 hits since it was posted to YouTube earlier this week.
In it, the subtitled words of the actor playing Hitler - identified as Mr Kelsey - state that the project has “always been about making money”.
“Who cares about ordinary people, they never understand things,” it shows him saying.
“They don’t have my vision for a better world”
It attacks “scaremongering” data privacy campaigners and has him saying: “People didn’t care when we sold off their NHS, they barely blinked”
At one point he is shown suggesting everything is OK because “Jeremy Hunt is right behind us”.
But he is then told: “Jeremy Hunt is hiding behind a tree. The Government is saying nothing. They are all hiding behind trees.”
Responding on the social media site, Mr Kelsey said: “My view on the YouTube film: funny but we risk underestimating how important data-sharing is for the NHS. Hitler was not a joke.”
A spokesperson for NHS England said: “Sir David very much hopes his tweet did not cause any offence, that was not his intention at all.
“He knows his team is doing a really important and complex job for patients, one which is critical for the NHS.”
Sir David, who resisted a sustained and virulent campaign for him to resign or be sacked over the Mid Staffordshire scandal, is due to retire as chief executive of NHS England next month.
Shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne told the Evening Standard: “There can be no excuse for showing Jeremy Hunt and his top officials in such an offensive video.”
Conservative MP Charlotte Leslie added: “This is absolutely shocking.
“He has done a very good job in portraying complete contempt not only for a co-worker but also the Secretary of State who has been so loyally defending him.
“This is another reason why he should have gone a long time ago.”