Influential health user who criticised NHS Programme for IT is to join BT, one of the suppliers

A powerful critic of aspects of the NHS’s National Programme for IT [NPfIT] is to join BT Health, one of the main suppliers to the programme. That probably means one less public critic of the NPfIT.

According to E-health Insider Sir Jonathan Michael, chief executive of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, is to join BT Health this summer.

Michael gave a speech last year that contained some praise for the programme. It also contained some authoritative criticisms.

In his speech to City University Michael said of the NPfIT : “What people have been trying to do is to dictate to a whole series of organisations what they should do, when actually it is not what they want to do.”

He questioned, for example, the wisdom of appointing a small number of suppliers, known as local service providers, to deliver a ruthless standardisation of systems.

Michael said, “From [the trust’s] point of view, the constraints of standardisation are that effectively all other IT investments hitherto become legacy needing to be replaced. You end up having to develop software through a small group of providers, even effectively new software, even though there may be off-the-shelf systems available, but available from somebody else. So where the marketplace already has solutions they are not available to us under Connecting for Health.”

Michael’s speech was by no means unremittingly critical of the NPfIT. Computer Weekly published a two-page article on his comments in March 2006 – here. BT has announced Michael’s appointment here.