• NHS England tells MPs departing digital chief officer will be barred from lobbying for six months
  • Reiterates that she was not involved in decision making about digital aspects of the long-term plan
  • Government says departing digital chief spoke with new employer, digital company Livi, twice in an official capacity in the past year

A senior NHS England digital executive will be barred from lobbying government for six months after taking a job at a digital health company, NHS England has said in response to concerns raised by MPs.

In a letter to the Commons health and social care committee, provided to HSJ, NHS England said departing chief digital officer Juliet Bauer had been “reminded” she could not lobby government once she left NHS England for six months.

It stated: “Ms Bauer was reminded that following the end of her employment with NHS England, she could not directly or indirectly (either alone or jointly with or on behalf of any person, firm or company and whether on their own account or as a principal, shareholder, partner, employee, agent or otherwise) for a period of six months lobby the UK government, including the Department of Health and Social Care, and its arms-length bodies including NHS England, on any aspects of national or regional health policy with a view to advancing their own business interests or those of any third party.”

NHS England did not respond to questions before publication as to whether this ban extended to local NHS organisations, such as clinical commissioning groups, that are likely to be making the procurement decisions about most new digital GP services.

Last month, HSJ reported that Ms Bauer, who had senior responsibility for digital patient services at NHS England, would be moving to video GP company Livi in April to lead on Europe business and NHS partnerships.

Four days after her move was reported, The Times published a column in which Ms Bauer praised Livi without disclosing she would soon be employed by the company. Labour MP and chair of the Commons public accounts committee Meg Hillier told the Financial Times the article was “jaw-droppingly inappropriate”, while NHS chief clinical information officer Simon Eccles, a colleague of Ms Bauer, said it was “muddling” and a mistake.

NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens also faced questions about Ms Bauer before the health and social committee last month, specifically what influence she had over digital aspects of the long-term plan. Under the plan, all patients will have the “right” to access online or video GP consultations by 2022-23.

In the letter sent to the health and social care committee chair, Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, NHS England national transformation and corporate director Emily Lawson reiterated Ms Bauer had had no influence over the digital aspects on the long-term plan.

“Her general involvement – alongside many others – in debating the digital aspects of the NHS long-term plan did not include making decisions on the specific commitments in the plan on digital consultations,” the letter stated. “Furthermore, I can confirm the CDO has not been involved in the selection of suppliers on the online consultations framework nor will be involved in the procurement approach relating to the commitment to rolling out digital-first consultations to patients.”

In a separate response to Parliamentary written questions, health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said Ms Bauer had spoken with Livi twice in her capacity as NHS England chief digital officer. She had had an introductory phone call with Livi in January last year and met with the company in October for a “discussion on the progress Livi had made in Sweden and whether the NHS could learn from this”.