NHS England and NHS Improvement to share top digital role

Keith McNeil was appointed as the NHS’s first national chief clinical information officer last year, a role created in response to one of key recommendations in the Wachter review.

Although Dr McNeil is commonly referred to as NHS England’s chief clinical information officer, NHS England told HSJ the role had always been shared with NHS Improvement.

He also chairs two boards overseeing digital strategy and delivery in the NHS respectively: the National Information Board and the Digital Delivery Board.

In August, he announced he would be leaving the role, and will depart in December. NHS England’s advert to replace Dr McNeil, published this week, said the role will report to NHS England and NHSI.

This could mean managing NHS Improvement staff.

The new CCIO would continue to chair the NIB but would only be a member of the DDB. NHS England said NHS chief information officer Will Smart will now chair the digital delivery board.

A job description for McNeil’s role said the CCIO would oversee “the implementation of Personalised Health and Care 2020 on behalf of the health and care system, including direct oversight of the £4bn NHS technology investment allocated for the next three years”.

The successful candidate should be a senior nurse, doctor or allied health professional with management experience and “extensive knowledge of using information and analytics, and harnessing technology to drive service improvement”.

Dr McNeil was one of three appointments to new national digital roles in July 2016, alongside Md Smart and NHS England’s chief digital officer Juliet Bauer.

NHS England and NHSI have been testing a “more integrated approach” this year, including revealing a new joint regional structure in July.

In an article on hsj.co.uk last month, King’s Fund chief executive Professor Chris Ham argued that while a full merger of the two organisations was unlikely to happen soon given the legislative constraints, more should be done to align functions and staffing at the arm’s length bodies, including senior leadership.

The deadline for applying for the role is 14 November.

This story was amended to reflect additional information provided by NHS England.

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