NHS computer records project chief quits

Richard Granger, the UK’s highest-paid civil servant, is to leave as head of the £12bn programme to develop an electronic patient record for the NHS.

The 42-year-old head of the IT programme, who is on six months’ notice, said on Friday he wanted to go because by October he would have fulfilled the five years he originally said he would devote to the project, and “most of the building blocks are now in place”.

His decision to go, he said, was also “a very personal one”. He wants to spend more time with his three young children in Cumbria, with a break from a job that has been “quite simply relentless”. He plans to “move to the next stage of my professional career” next year. He will be taking up “one of a number of approaches that are swirling around”.

He will go as the state of the programme remains a matter of controversy. Its key goal – a full, detailed, local, interchangeable electronic patient record – is running at least two years late. But Mr Granger can argue the programme is on budget, suppliers only get paid after they deliver, and large amounts of the infrastructure, and a host of other applications, including the wholesale replacement of X-ray film by digital images, are now in place, or being rolled out, and are working. The programme, however, also remains well behind on installing the new patient administration systems that are needed to work with the patient record software that is now due next year.

There is, however, now “no doubt about the programme’s achievability”, Mr Granger said.

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