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NHS IT minister resigns over Iraq war

Lord Hunt, the minister in charge of the government's £5bn health service IT overhaul, has resigned in protest at the prospect of...

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Lord Hunt, the minister in charge of the government's £5bn health service IT overhaul, has resigned in protest at the prospect of war with Iraq.

Hunt was in charge of delivering the Department of Health's IT strategy, Delivering 21st Century Support, which included major national projects including a national patient booking system, electronic health records and electronic reporting of laboratory results.

Ewan Davis, vice chair of the British Computer Society - Primary Health Care specialist group, said Hunt's resignation "is a loss" for NHS IT.

"People may have been critical of the government's NHS IT strategy, but Hunt had a better chance of leading it to success than someone without his healthcare experience," said Davis.

Paul Goss, director of health IT analyst group Silicon Bridge Research, said, "Lord Hunt was a good bridge between the health service and policy makers in Westminster and Whitehall."

Hunt's resignation was unlikely to have a fundamental long-term impact on the £5bn NHS IT programme, said Goss. "The programme is already under way. The money is allocated. Richard Granger [NHS national IT programme director] is kicking things off."

Goss pointed to the recent decision to appoint a director of delivery within the Department of Health as a sign that long-term planning mechanisms were in place to ensure the success of the NHS IT investment.

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