NHS appoints another IT overseer

The government has selected a second director general for its National Programme for IT

A new NHS IT 'czar' has been appointed by the government to work with frontline health service staff to ensure the smooth rollout of the £2.3bn NHS IT modernisation programme.

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer, professor Aidan Halligan, will work as a joint director general of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in the NHS alongside Richard Granger.

Now that all the IT contracts have been awarded, Granger will be allowed to focus on the technology implementation while Halligan will work to engage doctors and other clinicians to ensure NHS IT is user friendly.

The appointment is recognition by the government that the effective engagement of NHS staff is key to the successful implementation of the NPfIT.

The Department of Health's director of delivery John Bacon has also been appointed to chair the National IT Programme board and will be responsible for making sure the IT plans play a full part in wider NHS reforms.

Health minister John Hutton said in a statement: "The new IT systems and services are key to delivering patient choice and improved access to information for patients. As we are now moving into the key implementation phase of the programme, we all need to work hard to ensure that the NHS is behind the changes and willing to work as hard to implement them."

Halligan said he will put patients at the centre of his vision to have a health service where clinicians are supported by "world class IT" that will support more effective clinical working practices.