Ministers who are appointed as spokespeople for the NHS’s National Programme for IT [NPfIT] come and go.
This is the roll call so far: John Reid, John Hutton, Lord Hunt, Liam Byrne, Hazel Blears, David Lammey, Lord Warner, Caroline Flint, Rosie Winterton, Andy Burnham, Ivan Lewis, Patricia Hewitt.
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All of these have made statements to Parliament on the NPfIT. All have moved on since, except Ivan Lewis. Having left the Department of Health, they perhaps cannot be held accountable for the accuracy of what they said about the NPfIT when they were in office.
It’s even more unclear whether they can be held accountable for what they say about the NPfIT when they’re in office.
The new minister in charge of the NPfIT, to replace Lord Hunt and Caroline Flint, is expected to be Ben Bradshaw. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said she could not confirm this because the ministerial portfolios will not be announced until later this week.
Ben Bradshaw has been MP for Exeter since May 1997. He is Minister of State at the Department of Health and Minister for the South West.
During the 1997–2001 Parliament he was a member of the European Scrutiny Committee and the Ecclesiastical Committee. He piloted a Private Member’s Bill, the Pesticides Bill, though the House. The bill became law in 1998. He was Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, a position he relinquished when appointed PPS to the then Health Minister John Denham in December 2000.
After the 2001 election he was appointed a junior Foreign Office Minister after the election and in the May 2002 reshuffle Ben was moved to become Deputy Leader of the House of Commons in June 2003 he was appointment Minister for Nature Conservation and Fisheries. In June 2007 he was appointed to his current position.
He is a member of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, SERA, the Labour Party’s environmental group, the Christian Socialist Movement, the Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights, Stonewall and the Campaign for Real Ale.
Before his election he was a journalist, having trained on the Express & Echo in Exeter before working for BBC Radio Devon for three years. In 1989 he was appointed the BBC’s Berlin correspondent and in 1991 returned to Britain to work as a reporter and presenter for Radio 4’s World at One and World This Weekend.
He was born in 1960 and educated at Thorpe St Andrew School, Norwich. He studied German and Italian at Sussex University and the Freiburg University in Germany.
He is not particularly well known among MPs, the public or the media, so he could be a good choice for any government that wants the NPfIT to have a low profile.