Alan Johnson - a good choice as political head of NHS's National Programme for IT

Gordon Brown has made a good decision in appointing Alan Johnson as Secretary of State for Health. He’s independently minded and so is likely to see the £12.4bn NHS’s National Programme for IT [NPfIT] in the round.

When Johnson was in charge of the Child Support Agency, he did not try to play down the problems with systems, management and anarchic working practices. It’s unlikely he will follow his predecessor Patricia Hewitt in regarding all criticism of the NPfIT as corrosive.

Before Johnson’s appointment, Gordon Brown is said to have told a colleague that the existing political health team could cost him the next election. Johnson has gumption, experience at the sharp end of government and a taste for openness. He would make a refreshing change.

We hope he will not accept all of his Whitehall briefings at face value.

Perhaps he could visit Weston General Hospital, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre at Oxford and Milton Keynes General Hospital to talk to staff and doctors about how things are with national systems.


Johnson named as new Health Secretary

Brown’s Cabinet team takes shape

Connecting for Health, the NPfIT and constrained openness

Two top NHS officials visit Milton Keynes Hospital and see problematic new NHS IT systems