Head of NPfIT remains in post says DH

Sir David Nicholson, the Chief Executive of the NHS and Senior Responsible Owner [SRO] of the NPfIT, will remain as the programme’s SRO until the scheme is dismantled, the Department of Health said this week.

The DH’s statement contradicts a suggestion in the media that, as the NPfIT programme board has been disbanded, Nicholson is no longer the scheme’s senior responsible owner.

Had Nicholson stood down as the NPfIT SRO there would have been no direct accountable owner for the £4bn worth of contracts with local service providers BT and CSC, or the scheme’s remaining systems such as Choose and Book, the Summary Care Record and the data “Spine”.

A project’s SRO is held by Parliament to be the “business owner” of a central government project, the person responsible for the scheme’s results. Nicholson took on the job of NPfIT overall SRO when he accepted the appointment of NHS CE in 2006.  He has become the programme’s staunchest supporter.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “We have already announced that we are dismantling the National Programme for IT and establishing new governance arrangements to support more local decision making.

“Sir David Nicholson will remain Senior Responsible Owner to ensure a clear line of accountability whilst this work is undertaken.”

It’s unclear when Nicholson will stand down as head of the NPfIT or whether he can be held accountable for the problems on the project under his leadership. In 2008 he declined to order an independent investigation into the NPfIT.

Nicholson tries to keep NPfIT alive.

One response to “Head of NPfIT remains in post says DH

  1. Stuff and nonsense

    As much as I would like to blame Sir David in what way could he actually be held accountable? I guess he could be fired but I would hope that the other aspects of his job were well executed. It was clear from his PAC appearance that he was not terribly au fait with the world of NHS IT and was simply repeating a bunch of stock phrases we / he had all heard before (I may be being a bit harsh) one would hope that he was far more au fait with the rest of his responsibilities. Responsibility really lies with those who report to Sir David, who were supposed to keep him abreast of the goings on and who, for what ever reasons, did not give him the whole picture. If such information did flow and was accurate as to the nature of the programs failings then toss him in the tower by all means. If, as I suspect, he was presented with a ‘view’ of reality, say ‘LORENZO is now live Sir David and we can pay CSC its millions’ he may have needed Babel Fish to interpret for him, ‘Sir David, a bit of LORENZO is now being used occasionally by a podiatry clinic in a Trust, that’s what gone live actually means and for that we are expected to hand over millions to CSC’. Now had Sir David had a Babel Fish he may have thought differently. The nameless people in the chain have either jumped ship or are still there feverishly trying to keep the it afloat, they are with whom responsibility really lies, they are the people who should be named and shamed, they are the people who should asked to justify their actions / decisions. Oh but wait, they will just point ant the army of consultants used by CfH and in a no doubt Gollum like manner beg forgiveness say ‘but they said it would work and this was the way to do it’. This ends up looking like an infinite regress for which we, certainly I, have no appetite. Some fundamental changes are needed from the top down, I have said it before, this stuff is not difficult. For every disaster Mr Collins et al report on there are any number of success stories which slip under the radar, don’t get me wrong it is right and proper that such fiascos should be exposed and in public. The reality is that government does not learn from them or seems incapable of doing so, why? because Gollum sits in the shadows waiting for his precious and there are no hobbits to keep him in check. Agile is no hobbit and I fear for the Universal Credit scheme may go the same way of the National Program for IT and we will yet again find ourselves looking for someone to blame.


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