New Whitehall clinical director for informatics - a good choice

The Department of Health has just announced that it has appointed Charles Gutteridge first national clinical director for informatics.

Gutteridge has been the Medical Director at Barts and the London Trust since 2002 and so has seen at first hand the problems of introducing the Cerner Millennium NPfIT Care Records Service there. 

He has been a consultant haematologist at Barts and at Newham GeneralHospital.  He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and theRoyal College of Pathologists.

As a member of the London review acute group, he provided clinicaladvice to Lord Darzi’s review of health provision in London.  He alsochaired the Association of UK University Hospitals Medical Directors.

The Department of Health says he has been involved in patient safety, confidentiality and informatics issues at Barts. 

He was the Caldicott Guardian for Barts, led the Safer PatientsInitiative 2006-8 and chaired the Clinical Informatics Design Authoritywhich gave clinical advice about improving the use of Cerner Millenniumat the Trust.

He takes up his appointment this month.

He said:

“This is an exciting time to be at the cutting edge of deliveringinformatics to improve patient care.   As recent events have shown,there is a sea change in clinical attitudes to informatics and theNational Programme for IT. 

“My colleagues know that good, accessibleinformation enormously raises the quality of treatment and diagnosis wecan provide to the public. 

“My work with medical under-graduatesconfirms that these expectations are strong amongst the next generationof doctors.  I hope to contribute to encouraging those attitudes andenabling dialogue between clinical staff, patients and informaticsproviders.”

Christine Connelly, Director General for Informatics, Department of Health, said:

“We are delighted to have someone of Charles’ calibre on board.  Hisclinical background, coupled with his extensive experience in patientsafety and informatics issues, means he can provide leadership,ensuring we have clinical support as we implement change to benefitpatients.”


All too often Government department appoint to senior managementpositions people who have no experience of IT-related project failures.Yet someone who has seen how badly things have gone wrong will usuallyknow how ineptly organisations sometimes deal with crises, for exampleby suppressing bad news.  

If you haven’t experienced failure, you probably won’t have first-handknowledge of how to overcome internal politics, particularly theinertia that’s evident when executives don’t want to tackle seriousproblems because it means admitting there are serious problems.

I wish the best of luck to Charles Gutteridge.