Hospitals have spent £2 million on more than 50 gagging orders preventing staff speaking out, a Freedom of Information Act request has revealed.
Tory MP Steve Barclay, who obtained the figures, accused NHS chief Sir David Nicholson of either failing to ask questions about the orders or being “complicit in a cover-up”.
Sir David will retire as NHS England’s chief executive next year but Mr Barclay said he should stand down now because the culture in the health service had to change.
It was reported last night that at least 52 staff have been silenced using the orders since 2008, some of which cost as much as £500,000. All are thought to contain confidentiality clauses.
Mr Barclay is a member of the influential Commons spending watchdog the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which Sir David is due to appear in front of today.
In March, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt banned the use of gagging clauses in compromise agreements after it emerged that NHS hospital trusts had spent £15 million on silencing almost 600 staff.