The long-awaited NHS information strategy has been taken out the Department of Health’s informatics directorate, and is instead being led by the team responsible for the quality, innovation, productivity and prevention programme.
HSJ has learned that Jim Easton, the DH’s national director for improvement, has become the senior responsible owner for the strategy.
The strategy is being written Giles Wilmore, director of the quality framework and the QIPP programme. Mr Wilmore was policy lead on the Information Revolution when the original consultation document was produced last year.
It is understood that the move is intended to strengthen the link between better use of information and greater efficiency and improvements in care. The DH is also keen to ensure that the information strategy will support patient choice and help people make decisions about their care.
Jeremy Taylor, who is co-chairing the NHS Future Forum’s work on information, said the shift was “a recognition that information is a fundamental part of how you deliver decent services”.
He said: “There’s a slight danger that previously the information agenda had become domain of the geeks, and had become lost in a world of technology and informatics.
“The use of information has to be highly practical – a means to an end rather than an end unto itself.”
The move come follows Christine Connelly’s resignation as NHS chief information officer in June. HSJ has been told that it will enable Katie Davis, who succeeded Ms Connelly on an interim basis as managing director for informatics, to work on plans to set up a “national shared informatics function” to replace NHS Connecting for Health. The new organisation is intended to ensure a more varied informatics market with more opportunities for smaller IT suppliers. Ms Davis’ recommendations are due in the autumn.
The information strategy was originally expected to be released last spring following consultation which ended in January. Its release date has been repeatedly put back and is now scheduled for publication this winter.