The departure of Richard Granger, head of NHS IT

It’s not good news for the NHS’s National Programme for IT [NPfIT] that Richard Granger, Director General of NHS IT and head of the technology part of the scheme, is to leave.

Although there is no official reason given for his departure it’s understood that the decision to go was his. He has given six months notice. A fuller comment on his departure will be posted on this blog shortly.

E-health insider has an article in praise of Richard Granger and reader comments in another article that are mixed.

The Sunday Times quoted a summary of my views in an article yesterday [17 June 2007].

John O’Brien, an analyst at Ovum’s Government practice suggests that Richard Granger may have had an offer to run IT for the Olympics.

He says: “Granger’s legacy to the National Programme will be his strong leadership and commitment to making a difference to the way that the NHS performs its day-to-day duties.

“Granger will however leave behind him an NPfIT that is in the midst of major change.

“So where next for Granger? For someone with such a high profile track record Granger is unlikely to be stuck for options, and we don’t expect him to fade out of the spotlight. Indeed, he is apparently considering “several significant approaches” at the moment. Rumour has it that a role at the Olympics might be a worthy next challenge, but we will just have to wait and see.”

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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???