The “Downing Street papers” released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the names of some of those who attended a meeting, chaired by Tony Blair, which spawned the NHS’s £12.4bn National Programme for IT [NPfIT].
The meeting took place on Monday 18 February 2002 at 4pm. The plan a few days before the meeting was for Phil Hunt [Health Minister] and Professor Sir John Pattison [the Department of Health’s lead director for the NPfIT] to give a short presentation on the need for an NHS national programme for IT followed by a discussion chaired by Blair for about 45 minutes. The plan was for a further 45 minute discussion after Blair left. It’s not clear how much time was actually allocated to discussion over the NPfIT. Pattison later told the BBC he was given about 10 minutes to make the case for the NPfIT.
Some of those present at the NPfIT meeting at Downing Street, February 2002:
The Prime Minister Tony Blair
Secretary of State for Health, Alan Milburn
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Smith
Ed Richards, Media Policy adviser to No 10, former head of strategy at the BBC, who drew up a key political strategy for Labour’s general election campaign
Cabinet Office Minister, Lord Macdonald
Health Minister, Lord Hunt
Cabinet Secretary Sir Richard Wilson
NHS Chief Executive Nigel Crisp
Department of Health lead director for the NHS IT programme, Professor Sir John Pattison
Prime Minister’s policy adviser on health matters, Paul Corrigan
Cabinet Office E-envoy reporting to the PM, Andrew Pinder
Chief Executive of the Office of Government Commerce, Peter Gershon
Microsoft UK chief executive Neil Holloway
Kevin Dean, Public Sector Healthcare, Cisco
Ian Walker, HM Treasury, led the civil service team which supported Sir Derek Wanless in his review of the long-term funding of the NHS
Wendy Thomson, Chief Adviser on public service reform
Michael Barber, head of the prime minister’s Delivery Unit
Dominic Hardy, Prime Minister’s Policy Unit
It’s also understood that there were representatives of an Adair Turner Review Team.
The Cabinet Office released under the Freedom of Information Act a letter from one official to another which named the speakers at the meeting and summarised some of their comments. We don’t know if all the speakers are named in the documents released to us – and we don’t know everything that was said at the meeting. The Cabinet Office has declined to provide any minutes, and it appears there aren’t any.
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said that we have received the documents that the Information Commissioner ordered to be released last August. The Commssioner had ordered the release of documents the Cabinet Office said were relevant to the meeting at Downing Street. This may or may not be the full set of documents.
In the Cabinet Office we must trust.