Alan Johnson may oversee major NPfIT changes in 2008

The Health Service Journal has a story of a leaked letter, dated 19 December 2007, which reveals that Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, believes he was not well briefed about the C difficile outbreak at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, which led to the deaths of 90 people.

The briefings to ministers in advance of the go-live of the Rural Payment Agency’s Single Payment Scheme gave no clear hint of the disaster to come. A briefing to the then prime minister in February 2007 on the NHS’s National Programme for IT – NPfIT – was largely positive, though the programme is in travail.

So how accurate and candid are briefings to Alan Johnson on the NPfIT?

Johnson is no doubt asking good questions. He’s impressive as a minister. When handling bad news over the Child Support Agency and he was no Pangloss. His predecessor Patricia Hewitt might, if it were still legal, have put some purveyors of bad news to the gallows. But Johnson calls a spade a spade. His appointment as Health Secretary and the state of the NPfIT could mean major changes in the NPfIT in 2008. More on this soon.


NPfIT went ahead after prime minister had a 10-minute briefing

Some NPfIT “major issues” – did the prime minister get a full briefing in 2007?

Health Service Journal article – registration required

Alan Johnson – a good choice as political head of NHS’s National Programme for IT