Sir David has faced calls for his resignation over the failings, which led to hundreds of needless deaths.
He was accused of being a “process man” as he defended his time as head of the health authority in charge of Stafford.
He rejected the criticism and said he wanted to carry on leading the NHS.
He said the system was now much more geared up to recognising when care was failing and he was “absolutely determined” to carry on in his post.
He said the current reorganisation meant it was a period of “maximum risk” and he had promised the NHS and government he would lead the health service through the changes.
His appearance comes a month after the publication of the final report of the public inquiry into the scandal, which saw hundreds of patients die after neglect and abuse from staff.
The report said primary responsibility for the scandal lay with the board of the hospital, but also that the whole system had failed by putting corporate self-interest ahead of patients.
During the televised hearing, committee member Valerie Vaz told him he seemed to be a “process man” who was not focused on quality of care.
Sir David rejected this description as “unfair”.
Ms Vaz and other members of the committee then went on to quiz Sir David about his leadership of the local health authority that oversaw Stafford Hospital.
He was in post for 10 months between 2005 and 2006 at the height of the failings in care before climbing up the NHS hierarchy to take the top job.
Sir David told the committee: “During that period, across the NHS as a whole, patients were not the centre of the way the system operated.
“For a whole variety of reasons, not because people were bad but because there were a whole set of changes going on and a whole set of things we were being held accountable for from the centre, which created an environment where the leadership of the NHS lost its focus.
“I put my hands up to that and I was a part of that, but my learning from that was to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
He then went on to spell out the key issues health authorities were focusing on – access targets, such as the A&E four-hour waiting time target, and hospital infections, such as MRSA, and the reorganisation of structures.
“That was narrow, and I accept that that was a narrow definition of accountability, but that was the way it worked,” Sir David told the committee.
“It shows in Mid-Staffordshire, that that was a big failing in the whole system and I was in that system and I was part of it, absolutely.”