Four challenges for Whitehall after departure of Richard Granger, head of NHS NPfIT

A reader of this blog has raised some pertinent questions following the announcement that Richard Granger, Director General of NHS IT, is to quit as head of Connecting for Health, which runs the NHS’s National Programme for IT.

The commentator wants to remain anonymous. He points out how difficult it will be for ministers and Whitehall officials to find a replacement for Richard Granger in the time available. He says:

“Mr Granger has done the NHS a favour by telegraphing his leaving in enough time to allow a dignified and productive handover – but there are various challenging activities to start to set in motion now :

“1. Identify a charismatic individual (or top team) with excellent communications skills, domain knowledge, respected by clinicians and ready to hit the deck running in order to help select the positive parts of NPfIT and migrate them into a context for local managers and professionals to deliver.


“2. Protect the competent staff who are within the programme, in the commercial partners and in local organisations and keep them motivated and enthused by the value of what they are doing.

“3. Ensure the NHS realistically costs up and resources the informaticians, super-users and informatics tools that need to be in place to make a difference.

“4. Make the tough choices about what goes and what stays, and stick with it! All this in six months, without missing a beat : tough challenge indeed. Any names in the frame?

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One further qualification is that the individual to be hired must be an independent thinker who is not from the 'IT Establishment' which means no one should be hired from a Big Four consultancy company. People from these companies may be very good and have a good cv, but they can only operate in structured way set out by the rules and regulations in their own companies. Basically they are very competent apparatchicks who are sometimes motivated by their own personal success and damn the rest. Move them from the 'Soviet Union of Consulting' into democracy and open government and they fail. [edited]

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