NHS IT agency faces restructure

Consultation will take place over the future of the Connecting for Health name

The Department of Health (DoH) is in talks over what should become of the Connecting for Health (CfH) name after the agency's head, Martin Bellamy, departs at the end of the month.

Staff will be given a number of options for how the brand will be used in future, including stopping using the CfH name altogether.

The DoH's Informatics Directorate will assume responsibility for staff within the CfH and deliver the 10 projects under the £12.7bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) from July.

It is part of a shake-up of the way the NHS IT is delivered, with responsibility falling to six directors reporting to director-general of informatics, Christine Connelly, and chief information officer of the NHS Information Centre, Tim Straughan.

Bellamy's responsibilities will fall broadly to the DoH's head of programmes and operations Tim Donohoe, who will oversee delivery of the NPfIT and other NHS IT projects, and head of resources, services and governance, Carol Clarke.

Bellamy is moving to the Cabinet Office, where he will help head the government's vision for delivering the G-Cloud, a suite of centrally hosted applications for central and local government.

He has been in the CfH role for less than nine months, having been appointed alongside Connelly in September last year to take the place of Richard Granger, former NHS director general of IT and head of CfH, who left in January 2008. Former CfH chief operating officer, Gordon Hextall, left in April this year.

A DoH spokesman said of Bellamy's departure: "He is wished every success in this new challenge."

The NHS IT restructuring is being undertaken partly to help fulfill new expectations of the way healthcare is provided, as outlined by Professor Lord Darzi, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the DoH.

It is understood the DoH hopes the restructure will help it avoid repeating past mistakes in delivering IT projects in future programmes.

The public release of 31 Office of Government Commerce gateway reviews into the National Programme for IT last week revealed warnings dating back to 2002 that the project was at risk of failure.

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