Head of UK health services agency resigns

Richard Granger, the former head of NHS Connecting for Health, the agency charged with creating and delivering the UK$12.4 billion National Programme for IT in the NHS, has finally left Whitehall.

Granger announced his plans to quit in June 2007, but his departure was delayed until Jan. 31 this year.

In a terse message to staff, Hugh Taylor, the Department of Health’s most senior civil servant, said, “Richard has done a great job in leading the National Programme for IT, which has connected every hospital and GP surgery to a common network.”

Granger will not be directly replaced, Taylor said, “We are now putting in place a revised governance structure for handling informatics in the department and we will go out to open competition on two jobs, over the next few weeks.”

The Department of Health is to appoint a chief information officer for health, who will focus on delivering our overall IT vision. Until the appointment Matthew Swindells will act as the interim CIO.

The DoH will also appoint a second senior executive, to be known as director of IT program and system delivery, who will focus on managing NHS Connecting for Health and its partnerships in the NHS. Gordon Hextall, chief operating officer at NHS Connecting for Health team is acting as interim director.

Ministers said last year that Granger — then the U.K.’s highest paid civil servant on UK$290,000 a year — will not be getting a golden handshake.

The Department of Health is carrying out a review of “how the NHS uses informatics to improve patient care”. Some key contracts signed by Granger have been reset,” to take into account changes in the national IT program since it was launched.

A spokesperson told Computerworld UK last year, “This is not a review of Connecting for Health or the National Programme for IT, but the contribution of both will be included within this wider work, as recommended by Ara Darzi in his NHS Next Stage Review.”

Health minister Lord Darzi’s final report is due to be delivered in June 2008.

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