The National Programme for NHS IT has stepped up its efforts to gain the support of health service professionals for its £2.3bn IT-led modernisation, with the appointment of a joint director general to share the role with Richard Grainger.
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Professor Aidan Halligan, the deputy chief medical officer, will focus on winning the hearts and minds of doctors and other clinicians and ensuring patients’ needs are addressed with the IT programme.
The appointment is designed to allow Grainger to focus on the implementation of the new IT systems across the NHS.
The appointment of 46-year-old Halligan reflects a maturation of the National Programme as it is moved from mobilisation through procurement into implementation, said health minister John Hutton.
"The new IT systems and services are key to delivering patient choice and improved access to information for patients,” he said. “As we are now moving into the key implementation phase of the programme we all need to work hard to ensure that the NHS is behind the changes and willing to work as hard to implement them."
Hutton also announced that John Bacon, the Department of Health's director of delivery, has been appointed to chair the National IT Programme Board.
Bacon will be responsible for ensuring that the IT programme plays a full part in the wider NHS reforms and that NHS managers are on side and help to deliver the programme, he said.
All three directors will report to Nigel Crisp, chief executive of the NHS.