21/05/2013 12:05 BST | Updated 21/05/2013 13:02 BST

NHS Boss David Nicholson, Criticised Over Mid-Staffs Scandal, To Retire

Embattled NHS boss Sir David Nicholson plans to retire next year.

The NHS England chief executive will step down from his role next March.

Since the publication of the Francis report into serious failings of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, Sir David, who was in charge of the regional health authority responsible for the trust for a short period while patients were being mistreated, has faced numerous calls to resign.

David Nicholson said he had "no idea" about the Mid-Staffs scandal

In March he was castigated by MPs during a marathon three-hour grilling by the Health Select Committee.

He insisted he had had "no idea" about Mid-Staffs, one of the biggest scandals in its history.

"As shocking as it is, that's the truth," he said.

News of his departure was broken by the Health Service Journal, which said he had written to NHS chair Professor Malcolm Grant.

According to the HSJ, Nicholson wrote: "My hope is that by being clear about my intentions now this will you and the board the opportunity to attract candidates of the very highest calibre so they can appoint someone who will be able to see this essential work through to its completion.”

Grant replied, praising Nicholson's "exceptional" 35-year NHS career.