NHS Connecting for Health, which runs part of the NHS National Programme for IT [NPfIT] has confirmed in a letter to staff that Richard Granger, former head of health IT, has left, and that an Informatics Review is underway. Granger left on 31 January 2008.
The letter also says the Department of Health is to make two key IT appointments: a top-level CIO and a director of IT programme and system delivery
The letter praises Richard Granger, former Director General of NHS IT, for the major successes in rolling out technology-enabled business change to the NHS under his leadership.
His role will be replaced by the new director of IT programme and system delivery who will have the job of running IT programmes within budget, with the anticipated benefits and results. This job will not be an appointment at the highest level. He or she will report not directly to David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS but to a new CIO.
The CIO will have the status of director general who will be the head of development and delivering the overall strategy for information on health and social care. The CIO will report directly to David Nicholson, be a member of the NHS leadership team and the Department of Health Corporate Management Board, and will manage relationships with the main outside stakeholders.
The two new jobs will be advertised over the next few weeks.
The interim CIO is Matthew Swindells, policy adviser to the Secretary of State for Health, who is working on the NHS “Informatics Review” with David Nicholson and Hugh Taylor, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health.
Dated 6 February 2008 the letter is by Gordon Hextall who is interim director of the NPfIT and systems delivery at NHS Connecting for Health.
NHS Connecting for Health is to have a wider IT remit, though it may have a less distinct identity. Hextall says that CfH’s remit will be widened from running the national programme only to being accountable for “all nationally-coordinated major IT programmes across the NHS”.
Computer Weekly has campaigned for an independent, published review of NHS IT – but it’s unclear whether the results of the Informatics Review will be published, or whether it is independent.
PS The Department of Health has just told me [7 February] that the review will be published - this Spring.
To someone who has followed NHS IT developments for more than a decade the Hextall letter reads as if were written years ago. It gives the impression not much has changed at the top: different faces, different roles, and continued vague responsibilities and almost non-existent accountabilities.
The new CIO will be responsible for little that's specific but instead for "information goveranance and assurance and providing integrated leadership to key informatics organisations inside and outside the Department of Health". How this will be measured is a mystery.
My impression is that the NPfIT, after years of tough and charismatic leadership under Richard Granger, has been set adrift. There are many important and talented people aboard, but it's unclear where they're going. Time to jump? Probably not. But there should be an informed public and Parliamentary debate about the NPfIT, not one confined to internal committees and countless steering groups.
Informatics Review - some of the details
The NHS Informatics Review - summarised by NHS Connecting for Health
"Following the publication of the Lord Darzi's next stage review, 'Our NHS Our Future' in the autumn, David Nicholson, the Chief Executive of the NHS, commissioned a review of health informatics.
"NHS CFH staff have already contributed towards the review through a series of workshops last December, and now are being given another opportunity to follow this up.
"The review is looking at how the NHS can improve the collection and sharing of information for the better delivery of healthcare and sets out to achieve three things:
. To bring together the data collected by the NHS and other organisations to maximise its value, whilst minimising the burden on the people who collect it, thereby ensuring patients, staff and the public have the information they need (Project 1)
. To ensure that the approach with the remaining elements of NHS NPfIT (notably the NHS Care Records Service and SUS) reflects the changes in the NHS since their launch, making sure they will deliver maximum benefit to the NHS (Project 2)
. To make sure that those managing informatics within the Department of Health are engaged in the development and implementation of policy, and support the delivery of the core objectives of the NHS (Project 3)
"NHS Connecting for Health is leading on the second of these projects and has been carrying out a major piece of work to hear the views and comments of staff, clinicians, the voluntary sector, patients and other major stakeholders."