The release of the Department of Health’s information strategy, which was already a year late, has been put back again.

HSJ has learned that the document, previously expected “by April” is now slated for release in May. According to the DH, the strategy cannot be published during the Easter parliamentary recess as it cannot be made public before it is laid before parliament. Following that is a period of purdah ahead of the 3 May local elections.

However HSJ understands that the strategy remains unfinished. A draft of high-level recommendations was circulated to leading figures in health data and patient information some weeks ago, but was described by one recipient as “basically a lot of motherhood and apple pie”.

HSJ understands that the strategy will be focussed on use of data to benefit patients and the public. Technical data and intelligence requirements for commissioners are being developed as part of the commissioning support business intelligence programme.

The strategy was originally meant to be released last spring following a consultation on an “information revolution”, which formed part of the wider engagement around the 2010 white paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS.

However its first draft, produced by former DH chief information officer Christine Connelly, was scrapped and further work was held up by the passage of the Health and Bill through parliament and the work of the NHS Future Forum.