No one is taking responsibility for the NHS's information strategy, the Department of Health's informatics review has been told.
Review manager Tom Denwood has promised that the chaos over the management of the strategy will be put right within weeks. He told a conference of NHS information professionals that his team had found that there "doesn't appear to be one person or one bit of the organisation who owns the big picture around information".
"There is no one taking a strategic view over healthcare, social care and mental health," he said.
The review is being overseen by Matthew Swindells, interim director general for information and programme integration. It was commissioned by NHS chief executive David Nicholson.
Mr Denwood said NHS IT leads had said "there is a complete absence of a function that translates policy into business requirements", and there was no overarching responsibility for IT within the DH. This was illustrated in continual shifting of responsibility for the NHS IT strategy around the department.
Although his team's report is not due until the end of March, Mr Denwood suggested that a shake-up at the DH to achieve a "unified governance [structure] which is the decision making body" would happen "over the next couple of weeks".
Mr Denwood presented some of the review team's interim findings at a conference held by NHS information contractor CHKS. And he revealed another concern which had emerged from the review: the mismatch between NHS activities and the amount of data available.
"Potentially there is a lot of information where there might be little expenditure, but very little information where there is a lot of expenditure," he said. Mr Denwood said social care was his main concern - as it is a huge area of spending, yet there is relatively little information available about it. The new DH governance structure aims to bring the strategic management of health and social care information together.
HSJ's Information for Service Transformation conference is on 13 February, www.hsj-information.co.uk