Surgeon named interim head of UK health IT programme

Troubled NHS scheme gets new director general

Heart surgeon Sir Bruce Keogh has been appointed as the interim replacement for Matthew Swindells as head of the National Programme for IT at the UK's Department of Health.

Keogh, already an NHS Medical Director, will take on the job title Director General for Informatics at the Department of Health.

In an admission of turbulence at the Department of Health (DOH), which has lost two CIO-level leaders this year, Gordon Hextall will be interim Director of Informatics, "ensuring continuity in the management of NHS Connecting for Health", the DOH says. Hextall is also interim Director of Programme and System Delivery.

Keogh says of the new role "my clear priorities are to drive improvements in clinical quality and safety in the service we provide for our patients". He adds, "this can only be achieved by accelerating the development and uptake of reliable, local and national information systems which will make the jobs of manager and clinician easier."

Keogh's appointment follows the resignation earlier this month of Matthew Swindells, who, along with Hextall, took the reigns of the Connecting for Health program on January 31 after Richard Granger left the NHS following his well publicised resignation last year.

The DOH said it was looking to recruit a new CIO at Director General level. The department also lost Richard Jeavons in early April. Jeavons stood down as the Connecting for Health director of IT service implementation. Swindells is leaving the DOH to join Tribal, a specialist consultancy group.

Keogh has been actively involved in a DOH informatics review and lists his interest as health-care policy and implementation. An adult cardiac surgeon, he has been a consultant at Hammersmith Hospital and was knighted in 2003 for services to the medical community.

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