The Department of Health’s chief information officer Christine Connelly has resigned, it was announced today.
Ms Connelly, who had been in post for almost three years, said her decision was due to a top-level restructure in the department,which HSJ understands is expected to be completed before the summer recess.
The move comes two days after it was announced that the DH’s information strategy, had been delayed by several months and would now not be released until the autumn. A DH spokeswoman confirmed that this timetable was still in place despite Ms Connelly’s departure.
HSJ also reports this week that DH sources and the NHS Future Forum have both expressed interest in the panel conducting more work on the use of data and information.
Ms Connelly came under fire from MPs last month during a Public Accounts Committee evidence session on the National Programme for IT. The £11.4bn programme, overseen by the DH’s informatics arm, NHS Connecting for Health, has been blighted by delays and protracted contract renegotiations.
A review by the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority into the DH’s deal with CSC, one of the programme’s two main providers, is expected to report back imminently.
Ms Connelly will be replaced on an interim basis by Katie Davis, who will be joining the DH “on loan” from the Cabinet Office from July 1.
Ms Davis has been executive director for operational excellence in the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency Reform Group since 2010.
In a statement issued this morning Ms Connelly said: “The DH faces a major reorganisation of its top structures that will result in few director general posts.
“I have been reflecting on whether I would wish to go for one of those roles and decided that I will not.
“I have had a fascinating and challenging time in this role and I have decided that this is the right time to step back and think about what I might do next.”
She said information and technology have the potential to “dramatically change the way health services are delivered”, and added that she believed informatics will play a major role in delivering the quality and efficiency challenges the NHS faces.
NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson said Ms Connelly had made a “major contribution” to the NHS, “in promoting both the sharing and management of information, and as a professional with considerable experience of leading change.
“She has tackled a very difficult set of issues around the National Programme for IT, and moved them forward. I wish her well in her future career.”
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley wished Ms Connelly “the best of luck with whatever she chooses to do next” and noted her work in delivering the information strategy.
Prior to joining the DH, Ms Connelly served as chief information officer at Cadbury Schweppes for three years, and also held senior IT roles at BP.