Bland platitudes - MP criticises evidence by NHS experts to Commons' Health Committee

This is one of a series on this blog of some of more memorable comments made by witnesses and MPs at an inquiry into the National Programme for IT [NPfIT] by the Health Committee of the House of Commons.

The witnesses at the first hearing on 26 April 2007 were:

– Richard Granger, Director General of IT for the NHS and head of the NPfIT

– Harry Cayton, National Director for Patients and the Public, Department of Health

– Dr Gillian Braunold, a GP and National Clinical Lead for GPs, Connecting for Health.

Martyn Thomas, visiting Professor of Software Engineering, University of Oxford,

Dr Paul Cundy, Chair, General Practitioners’ Joint IT Committee

Andrew Hawker, NHS Patient

A list of who is on the committee is at the end of this article.

At the Health Committee hearing, Independent MP, Dr Richard Taylor, summed up the spoken evidence of the first group of witnesses, Richard Granger, Harry Cayton and Dr Gillian Braunold, as “bland platitudes”.

These three witnesses had left the committee room after giving their evidence, without waiting to hear what the second group of witnesses – Martyn Thomas, Dr Paul Cundy and Andrew Hawker – had to say.

Speaking to Thomas, Cundy and Hawker, Dr Taylor, MP, said: “I am echoing David [David Amess, Tory MP on the committee]. It is so good to have you three after the bland platitudes we had from the first lot – absolutely refreshing. We were told user involvement was there from the beginning, and you said obviously it was not…”

MP David Amess reflected on the departure of Richard Granger, Harry Cayton and Dr Gillian Braunold from the committee room. Amess told Martyn Thomas, Dr Paul Cundy and Andrew Hawker: “Listening to you three gentleman, I think it is a great shame that the three previous witnesses cleared off as soon as you started. I would like to have seen the six of you together, [had] a bit of creative tension, and got the inquiry off to a bit of a bang. All they are going to have to do is read about what you have said, but it cannot be helped.”


Membership of the House of Commons’ Health Committee

Kevin Barron, Labour, Rother Valley – Chairman

Mr David Amess, Conservative, Southend West

Charlotte Atkins, Labour, Staffordshire Moorlands

Mr Ronnie Campbell, Labour, Blyth Valley

Jim Dowd, Labour, Lewisham West

Sandra Gidley, Liberal Democrat, Romsey

Stewart Jackson, Conservative, Peterborough

Dr Doug Naysmith, Labour/Co-operative, Bristol North West

Mike Penning, Conservative, Hemel Hempstead

Dr Howard Stoate, Labour, Dartford

Dr Richard Taylor, Independent, Wyre Forest