CfH medical director stands down as director of software supplier

The Medical Director at NHS Connecting for Health has resigned as non-executive director of a health software group, to avoid any perceptions of a conflict of interest.

Simon Eccles has been one of the government’s most high-profile and ardent supporters of the National Programme for IT [NPfIT].

Last week he was on BBC R4’s “Today” to defend criticism by the British Medical Association’s Council chairman Hamish Meldrum of the accelerated roll-out of NPfIT Summary Care Records.

After the broadcast, an anonymous Computer Weekly reader left a comment on this blog saying that Eccles is Medical Director of NHS Connecting of Health and also non-executive director of Zircadian, a private IT company which sells software and IT solutions to the NHS.

Computer Weekly then asked NHS Connecting for Health whether Eccles hadenough time for his tasks at CfH, at Zircadian, and also as A&Econsultant at Homerton University Hospital NHS FoundationTrust.

We also asked if his role at Zircadian could create the perception of apotential conflict of interest.

CfH and Zircadian have now announced that Eccles has quit as anon-executive director at Zircadian. He’d been appointed non-executivedirector of Zircadian in August 2008.

An NHS CfH spokeswoman said:

“Dr Simon Eccles, the Medical Director for NHS CFH was seconded to theNational Programme for IT in 2005.  He continues to work part of theweek as an A&E consultant at the Homerton University Hospital inLondon.  

“He is no longer a non-executive director at Zircadian.  There was noconflict of interest involved as the company concerned has no relationwith NHS Connecting for Health programmes or products.  However hedecided that any perception that there might be an issue was sufficientreason for him to step down.”

Zircadian says on its website: “Dr Eccles’ role with us had been agreedwith the Department of Health and there was no conflict of interestinvolved as Zircadian Ltd has no relation with NHS Connecting forHealth programmes or products. However he has decided that anyperception that there might be an issue is sufficient reason for him tostep down.”

Eccles qualified from the London Hospital Medical College in 1994. Heis a past chairman of the Junior Doctors Committee of the BMA, leadingwork with the Department of Health on the introduction of theModernising Medical Careers proposals as well as the continuingchallenges arising from the European Working Time Directive.

He is joint editor of the best selling careers guide ‘So you want to be a brain surgeon?’

BMA and CfH argue it out over Summary Care Records – IT Projects Blog