Former United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust chief executive Gary Walker did seek to be treated as a whistleblower when he approached Sir David Nicholson with patient safety concerns, a document seen by HSJ reveals.

Speaking to the Commons public accounts committee yesterday, the NHS chief executive denied Mr Walker had identified himself as a whistleblower in a letter setting out his concerns about patient safety.

Read Mr Walker’s letter

Mr Walker had claimed the trust could not meet 18 week waiting time targets for elective care, and provide safe services but he was told by NHS East Midlands to meet the targets regardless.

Sir David told the PAC he had intervened in the case immediately when concerns were raised with him.

Asked when that was, Sir David said: “When [Gary Walker] wrote to me setting out his concerns. He didn’t identify himself as a whistleblower. Nevertheless I immediately responded by commissioning an independent inquiry into the circumstances around [this], which produced a report, the executive summary of which was published at the time.”

HSJ has today seen the letter from Mr Walker to the NHS chief executive, written in July 2009.

The letter ends: “I assume the Department of Health has a policy on whistle-blowing and would therefore like this letter to be considered in that context and not freely copied to the SHA or local PCT.”

In the letter Mr Walker also asserts that he is making a “protected disclosure”.