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NHS England splits CIO role in new appointments



New chief clinical information officer position reflects indications from Wachter review on health service systems

NHS England has adopted a two pronged approach to the responsibilities of the chief information officer (CIO) by dividing the roles for clinical and other information in a pair of senior appointments.

It has announced that Professor Keith McNeil (pictured) is take on the job of chief clinical information officer (CCIO), while Will Smart will become NHS CIO.

In a third appointment, Juliet Bauer has been made director of digital experience for the organisation.

The separation reflects the pre-publication indications of the recommendations in Dr Bob Wachter’s review of NHS IT systems. He has been reported as saying that the CCIO role, focused on medical information and encouraging the use of digital technology by clinicians, has already established its value in his native US.

McNeil’s background as a former transplant specialist reflects the clinical nature of the position, although he has also held senior management positions as chief executive officer of Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Track record

Commenting on McNeil’s appointment, Wachter said: “As a clinician with a track record in technology, Keith McNeil has shown he understands both why transformation is necessary, and how to make it happen. He ‘gets’ the necessity of clinical engagement, and the real world complexities of technology adoption.

“The journey may not always be smooth, but the electronic record system at Addenbrooke’s is now one of the best in the NHS, a real example of how technology can improve outcomes for patients.”

Smart is currently CIO at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, and has worked in IT in the health service and private sector.

He and McNeil will report to Matthew Swindells, national director of operations and information for the NHS, chair the National Information Board and act as commissioning clients for programmes delivered by NHS Digital (previously the Health and Social Care Information Centre).

Website and self-management

Bauer, who has led technology programmes for several businesses, will be responsible for the NHS Choices website and the development and adoption of technology for self-management by patients.

Matthew Swindells said: “This exceptional team should ensure we drive forward our national IT strategy but remain focused on delivering better outcomes for the patients we serve, and improved efficiency in how we deliver that care.

“In the future we will not talk about ‘IT projects’, only ‘patient improvements supported by information and technology’ and these new appointments will give the NHS the shared leadership to make that happen.”

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