NHS splits CIO role in two


The government has announced that it will split the role of National Health Service (NHS) chief information officer (CIO) in two.

The Department of Health (DoH) has appointed former Cadbury Schweppes CIO, Christine Connelly as the first Health CIO. It said her role will be to develop and deliver the department's information strategy.

At Cadbury Schweppes, Connelly's remit included managing a 24,000 seat global desktop estate. But she will now oversee NHS Connecting for Health, which is responsible for the 12.7-billion National Programme for IT (NPfIT) that aims to link 300 hospitals and thousands of GPs to a 50-million electronic patient records system.

Meanwhile, Martin Bellamy has been confirmed as programme and system delivery director. Formerly CIO of the Pension Service, Bellamy will lead NHS Connecting for Health and have the most hands on' contact with the NPfIT.

The appointment of Connelly and Bellamy followed "the strategic refocusing of IT leadership as part of the Health Informatics Review into how information can be better used across the department and NHS," said the DoH.

Gordon Hextall is expected to continue in his role as chief operating officer at NHS Connecting for Health.

But the new appointments were prompted by the resignation of NHS IT director general, Richard Granger in June 2007. The former management consultant left the public sector IT role after five years.

But his replacement, Martin Swindells left only months into the job at the end of a secondment to the DoH. Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS Medical Director, took over from Swindells as interim Director General for Informatics at the DoH this April.

Granger was the highest paid UK civil servant paid, earning 290,000 a year, but the jobs given to Connelly and Bellamy were advertised at over a third more the price, with salaries in the region of 200,000 each.

Connelly and Bellamy are due to take up their positions on Monday 22 September 2008. But they will face the challenge of getting the faltering NPfIT back on track, with troubled deployments and low user approval ratings.

Only a couple of months ago a National Audit Office (NAO) report said the health IT overhaul, launched in 2002 and that was hoped to be completed by 2010, is now expected by 2014/15.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.