National director for patients and information announces departure for private sector in Australia
The NHS in England is hunting for a new leader of its ambitious plans for a ‘paperless’ health service, after its champion quit for a new job in Australia.
Tim Kelsey, appointed three years ago, was charged with driving forward a digital NHS, picking up the pieces after Labour’s disastrous National Programme for IT.
Under the plans, all patients will be able to view their health history, with every visit, prescription, test result, adverse reaction and allergy to drugs available “at the click of a button”.
The national director for patients and information was also behind the ‘friends and family’ test to drive up NHS standards and the troubled care-data records-sharing project.
Now Kelsey will leave his role in December, to join Telstra Health, which develops digital and mobile health products as a division of Australian telecommunications provider Telstra Corp.
The departure leaves NHS England recruiting a replacement for its digital push, which is seen as vital if the health service is to avoid a disastrous cash crunch in this parliament.
There is already huge scepticism that £22bn of annual efficiency savings can be found by 2020 – even if new technology can be introduced smoothly.
Unveiling that digital blueprint, last November, Kelsey said: “We must embrace modern technology to help us lead healthier lives, and if we want - to take more control when are ill.
“Our ambition is to make the NHS a digital pioneer for our patients and citizens.”
In a message to colleagues today, Kelsey said: “Over the last three years we have made significant progress on turning that aspiration into reality.
“The decision to leave has been one of the hardest I’ve made but I’m going to fulfil an ambition that will come as no surprise to those who know me well – to develop next generation digital services for patients and professionals that I hope will help all of us take more control of our health and care.”
Keen to learn
Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, suggested the recruitment of Kelsey showed others were keen to learn from the NHS’s digital progress.
He said: “Tim has brought his infectious energy and creative expertise to the vital drive for open, transparent and technology enabled health services.
“It’s no surprise that other countries now want to emulate that success.”
Even after taking up the post of commercial director, in Melbourne, Kelsey will observe a six-month ‘cooling off period’, until July 2016, before “engaging in any business activity with the NHS”. But he has said that in the new role he will continue developing digital healthcare services, emphasising the future potential of genomics and personalised medicine.
Picture by Paul Clarke © | paulclarke.com