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One tech chief leaves NHSE and another gives up ‘budgetary authority’

Published on: 12 Apr 2022

A long-serving NHS tech chief is departing from his national role, while another leader’s responsibilities have changed – amid the merger between NHSX and NHS England.

Simon Eccles, who was chief clinical information officer at NHSX, will return to Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals Foundation Trust after working at national level for 17 years.

HSJ has also learned that NHSX CEO Matthew Gould has relinquished management and budgetary responsibilities within NHSE although he will continue to take part in his activities with the regulator.

The changes come as NHSX staff have moved to NHSE’s new transformation directorate, which is led by Tim Ferris.

Dr Eccles has been the NHS’s CCIO for four years, and he had previously led several national programmes as part of attempts to digitally transform the NHS.

In a message to NHSE staff, Dr Eccles said he had joined the National Programme for IT 17 years ago with a “remit to help put electronic patient records into every hospital”.

This continues to be a target for the NHS, and Dr Eccles cited the digitisation of primary care, developing the clinical informatics profession and work on screening programmes among schemes he had the “real pleasure” of working on.

Dr Ferris added in his own email to staff that Dr Eccles had made a “big difference, particularly in helping set up national covid-19 testing capability during the pandemic”.

Dr Eccles said in his email he had extended his secondment to NHSE to help with NHSX’s transition to the regulator, but that the secondment had now ended.

Meanwhile, it was also announced on Tuesday that NHSX CEO Matthew Gould will no longer have management and budgetary responsibilities under the transformation directorate’s new operating model.

In an internal message to staff, seen by HSJ, it was said that Mr Gould will “continue to attend NHS Exec and to take part in all the NHSE activities he did previously”.

“But… it was felt Matthew no longer needed to have direct line management or budgetary authority within NHSE, and it made sense to make those changes from the start of this financial year,” according to the message.

Mr Gould will remain the NHS’ national director for digital transformation.

NHS Digital and Health Education England will also be merged with NHSE, under plans to bring together tech and workforce services together with NHSE.