All change at the DH, CfH and on NPfIT – or not?

By Tony Collins

Katie Davis is to leave as interim Managing Director of NHS Informatics, says eHealth Insider which has seen an internal memo.

.The memo indicates that Davis “intends to focus on being a full-time mother to her two children”.

She joined the Department of Health on 1 July 2011, on loan from the Cabinet Office where she was Executive Director, Operational Excellence, in the Efficiency and Reform Group.

Before that she was Executive Director of Strategy at the Identity and Passport Service in the Home Office.

The memo indicates that the director responsible for the day-to-day delivery of NHS programmes and services, Tim Donohoe, will take-over Davis’ role until NHS Connecting for Health shuts down at the end of March 2013.

CfH’s national projects look set to move to the NHS Commissioning Board in Leeds, while its delivery functions will move to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Davis had told eHeath Insider that her priorities included concluding a piece of unfinished business on the NPfIT – the future of the [CSC] local service provider deal for the North, Midlands and East.

Comment:

Davis has been a strong independent voice at the Department of Health. Partly under her influence buying decisions have passed to NHS trusts without penalties being paid by the NHS to NPfIT local service provider CSC.

It is a little worrying, though, that high-level responsibility for the rump of the NPfIT – CSC’s contracts, Choose and Book, the Spine, Summary Care Record and other centrally-managed projects and programmes – may fall to David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS.

Labour appointed Nicholson in 2006 with a brief that included making a success of the NPfIT. He has been the NPfIT’s strongest advocate.

Indeed a confidential briefing paper from the Department of Health to the then PM Tony Blair in 2007 on the progress of the NPfIT said:

“… much of the programme is complete with software delivered to time and to budget.”

It is difficult to see the NPfIT being completely dismantled under David Nicholson. It’s probable that CfH will be shut down in name but recreated in other parts of the NHS, while the NPfIT programmes and projects run down very slowly.  It’s even conceivable that CSC’s and BT’s local service provider contracts will be extended before they are due to expire in 2015/16.

A comment on eHealth Insider says:

“My understanding is that NPfIT is leaving us with a legacy of ancient PAS systems barely fit for purpose which cost a fortune to operate and which will transfer to a massive service charge once national contracts end. That’s if you don’t count the most expensive PACS system in the universe. And I wonder what Lorenzo cost?”

It’s hard to argue with that. Meanwhile the costly NPfIT go-lives are due to continue, at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, for example.

End game for Davis and CfH announced.

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