THE NHS boss for the county’s major hospitals was held responsible for failing to act over the Mid Staffs scandal, which claimed 1,400 lives.

Sir David Nicholson was head of West Midlands Health Authority, which oversaw Stafford Hospital, at the time of the deaths.

The Mirror Online reported that Mr Nicholson will now earn £40,000 a year as the part-time chairman of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

The news outlet also claimed that Mr Nicholson retired on a £1.9million pension four years ago.

Peter Pinfield, head of Healthwatch Worcestershire, the county's health watchdog, said: "My first reaction was 'wow'. Mainly because I think I could see it would be a controversial appointment and would result in some good and some bad things.

"That's the person Sir David Nicholson is. He has a lot of experience with the NHS.

"I think I would say as with all the chairmen of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Healthwatch's stance is to give people a chance.

"I can assure your readers that if things get difficult and anybody has to be held to account Healthwatch will do that."

When asked to comment on the story, a spokesman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust provided a quote from its chief executive.

Michelle McKay said: “I am delighted to welcome Sir David Nicholson as the new interim chairman of our trust.

“His knowledge and understanding of the challenges we face in this trust and across the wider health and care system will, I am sure, be enormously helpful to our efforts to secure safe, high quality hospital services for the people of Worcestershire, as well as the work we are doing to move to a position of sustainable financial balance.

“We are looking forward to his joining us next week and I am sure he will very quickly make a positive impact on the trust.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Mark Yates, who stepped up to the role of acting chairman following the departure of Caragh Merrick, and will continue in his non-executive director role with us.”

Mr Nicholson stepped down as chief executive of NHS England after the publication of the Francis Report in 2013, which prompted a wave of criticism about his role in the Mid Staffs scandal.

The Francis inquiry was launched following an investigation by the Healthcare Commission which found that more people were dying at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust than at other hospital trusts between 2005 and 2008.

The commission found some patients drank water from vases due to thirst, while others relied on their families for food.