The Department of Health has just announced that it has appointed Charles Gutteridge first national clinical director for informatics.
Gutteridge has been the Medical Director at Barts and the London Trust since 2002 and so has seen at first hand the problems of introducing the Cerner Millennium NPfIT Care Records Service there.
He has been a consultant haematologist at Barts and at Newham General Hospital. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Pathologists.
As a member of the London review acute group, he provided clinical advice to Lord Darzi's review of health provision in London. He also chaired the Association of UK University Hospitals Medical Directors.
The Department of Health says he has been involved in patient safety, confidentiality and informatics issues at Barts.
He was the Caldicott Guardian for Barts, led the Safer Patients Initiative 2006-8 and chaired the Clinical Informatics Design Authority which gave clinical advice about improving the use of Cerner Millennium at the Trust.
He takes up his appointment this month.
"This is an exciting time to be at the cutting edge of delivering informatics to improve patient care. As recent events have shown, there is a sea change in clinical attitudes to informatics and the National Programme for IT.
"My colleagues know that good, accessible information enormously raises the quality of treatment and diagnosis we can provide to the public.
"My work with medical under-graduates confirms that these expectations are strong amongst the next generation of doctors. I hope to contribute to encouraging those attitudes and enabling dialogue between clinical staff, patients and informatics providers."
Christine Connelly, Director General for Informatics, Department of Health, said:
"We are delighted to have someone of Charles' calibre on board. His clinical background, coupled with his extensive experience in patient safety and informatics issues, means he can provide leadership, ensuring we have clinical support as we implement change to benefit patients."Comment:
All too often Government department appoint to senior management positions people who have no experience of IT-related project failures. Yet someone who has seen how badly things have gone wrong will usually know how ineptly organisations sometimes deal with crises, for example by suppressing bad news.
If you haven't experienced failure, you probably won't have first-hand knowledge of how to overcome internal politics, particularly the inertia that's evident when executives don't want to tackle serious problems because it means admitting there are serious problems.
I wish the best of luck to Charles Gutteridge.