Government CIO denies he will be head of NHS IT

Ian Watmore, the government's chief information officer, has said he is "absolutely happy" in his job and has no plans to take...

Ian Watmore, the government's chief information officer, has said he is "absolutely happy" in his job and has no plans to take over as head of the national programme for IT in the NHS.

Watmore said speculation in a health IT journal that he could soon gain control of the NHS IT programme was "rubbish".

He said, "I am happy in the job I have got and I would not leave it to go and run an individual programme or take an individual line role in government."

He said his job was an over-arching one which involved co-ordinating the work of many CIOs in government.

"We need good people in critical jobs, like we have Richard [Granger, head of NHS IT] in his current job and Steve Lamey [CIO] at the Inland Revenue and Joe Harley [CIO] at the Department for Work and Pensions.

"We also need somebody who is looking across the whole patch. I would argue that if we let the latter job go, we will suffer problems in other areas."

This was because government needs a co-ordinating adviser at a time when it is "trying to do so many complicated things to transform services", he said.

"In any of these big IT jobs in government - and there are lots - if anyone were to leave I would hope to be involved in helping to find the successor, but I would not be putting myself forward because that is not the job I came to do, and it is not the job I want to do."

Watmore said he had just returned from helping to organise a key conference on e-government in November 2005 when he read of speculation that he will take over the national programme.

One of the main topics at the Transforming Public Services: eGovernment ministerial conference 2005 will be departmental readiness for transforming the administration of government services in line with the Gershon review, which recommended cuts in Whitehall costs of about £20bn.

NHS supplier to bring Emis on board     

GP systems supplier Emis, which was at one time on the sidelines of the NHS' national programme for IT (NPfIT), is now expected to sign a deal with CSC, one of the NPfIT's local service providers.  

A deal between CSC Alliance and Emis is expected to be announced shortly, although a contract had not been signed as Computer Weekly went to press. Nobody from either firm was available for comment.  

CSC Alliance has been appointed to supply new national systems to trusts and GPs in the North West and West Midlands. It plans to offer Isoft's Lorenzo product to GPs in the area. But the government has promised GPs a choice of systems, and CSC is expected to choose Emis as its alternative supplier.  

Emis' future was considered by some users to be uncertain when it was not initially selected as a supplier to the NPfIT local service providers.

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