Department of Health director of commissioning Gary Belfield has handed in his notice saying he wants to take up a post outside the department.

Mr Belfield has been acting director general of commissioning and system management at the DH since June last year, following the departure of his predecessor and fellow architect of the World Class Commissioning programme Mark Britnell.

A spokesman for the DH confirmed Mr Belfield had resigned. He said: “Gary Belfield has given notice that he wishes to leave his role as acting director general of commissioning and system management to take up a post outside the Department of Health.”

HSJ understands Mr Belfield has already stepped down from his post and is currently on “gardening leave”.

HSJ has also learnt that he will be following Mr Britnell to take up a post with consultancy firm KPMG, though the company would not confirm or deny this at present.

PCT Network Director David Stout said, that although Mr Belfield was in the middle of leading this year’s world class commissioning assurance process, his departure should not greatly impact on it.

The last panel visits are currently taking place and Mr Belfield told HSJ in March that he hoped to publish the results in June.  Mr Stout said: “I’d be astonished if that changed.”

He said:  “Where do we go with a coalition, or minority, government are more fundamental questions.”

The current political situation suggests a short term a holding operation will be put in place at the DH, most likely with strong input from director of primary care Ben Dyson and director of system management and new enterprise Bob Ricketts.

DH director general of NHS finance, performance and operations David Flory and NHS National director for improvement and efficiency Jim Easton are also likely to be keeping a close eye on the situation, given the central role good commissioning will play in quality and efficiency.

A DH spokeswoman said:  “We have put in place interim arrangements, which involve other director generals sharing Gary’s responsibilities. These will be reviewed in the next few weeks.

“Gary’s departure will not affect the WCC assurance process.”

NHS Alliance chief executive Michael Sobanja said:  “I think it is difficult to assess the impact of Gary’s decision in the current political climate, but it cannot do anything but harm to the commissioning movement and its momentum.

“I think it is sad that Gary appears to be leaving the DH, and presumably the NHS, as he is an individual in my experience of integrity and has given a lot to world class commissioning.”