The medical director at NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) has resigned as non-executive director of a health software group, to avoid any perceptions of a conflict of interest.
Simon Eccles has been one of the government's most high-profile and ardent supporters of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT).
He has resigned as a non-executive director at Zircadian, after Computer Weekly questioned whether his role at a company that supplies software, services and consultancy to the NHS, could create the perception of a potential conflict of interest.
CfH and Zircadian announced that Eccles has quit as a non-executive director at Zircadian. An NHS CfH spokeswoman said, "Dr Simon Eccles, the medical director for NHS CfH, was seconded to the National Programme for IT in 2005. He continues to work part of the week as an A&E consultant at the Homerton University Hospital in London."
"He is no longer a non-executive director at Zircadian. There was no conflict of interest involved as the company concerned has no relation with NHS Connecting for Health programmes or products. However he decided that any perception that there might be an issue was sufficient reason for him to step down."
Zircadian has confirmed on its website that Eccles has resigned. "Dr Eccles' role with us had been agreed with the Department of Health and there was no conflict of interest involved as Zircadian Ltd has no relation with NHS Connecting for Health programmes or products. However he has decided that any perception that there might be an issue is sufficient reason for him to step down."
Eccles qualified from the London Hospital Medical College in 1994. He is a past chairman of the Junior Doctors Committee of the BMA, leading work with the Department of Health on the introduction of the Modernising Medical Careers proposals, as well as the continuing challenges arising from the European Working Time Directive.
He is joint editor of the bestselling careers guide "So you want to be a brain surgeon?".
|Events that led to Simon Eccles standing down|
Simon Eccles was on BBC R4's Today Programme to defend criticism by the British Medical Association's Council chairman, Hamish Meldrum, of NPfIT Summary Care Records.
After the broadcast, an anonymous Computer Weekly reader left a comment on the IT Projects Blog saying that Eccles is medical director of NHS Connecting for Health and also non-executive director of Zircadian, a private IT company that sells software and IT systems to the NHS.
Computer Weekly then asked Connecting for Health whether Eccles had enough time for his tasks at CfH, at Zircadian, and also as A&E consultant at Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. We also asked if his role at Zircadian, which supplies software, services and consultancy to the NHS, could create the perception of a potential conflict of interest.