Richard Granger, head of NHS IT and his "Ridiculous to imagine?" comment

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 first Health Committee hearing MP Jim Dowd asked Richard Granger: “When you say it [the NPfIT] has got more functionality than originally envisaged, is that because the original estimates were just wrong?”

Richard Granger replied: “I do not know of a large-scale IT enabled transformation programme in a complex organisation that from its starting point to its mid point has a direct correlation.

“I think it would be a fantasy to imagine. I know people write fantasies, but in the real world it would be ridiculous to imagine that halfway through a ten-year programme you would only be doing the same things as you set out five years ago.

“I will give you some examples in addition to the digital imaging. Putting in a new contrary usage service, putting in an email service, putting in the standards for GP to GP record transfer, putting in a new payment system for GPs, taking the atrocious batch legacy number systems that the NHS was reliant on and putting in fresh, modern on-line databases, putting in bowel cancer screening systems, none of those was envisaged in 2002.”


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