NHS England ‘To Create Chief IT Officer Role’

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The new position is to focus on NHS England’s IT modernisation projects and safeguarding the confidentiality of digital patient records

NHS England is to appoint a new chief information and technology officer (CITO) to lead the organisation’s IT projects following the departure of Tim Kelsey, the current national director for patients and information, reports have claimed.

The CITO’s role will include assisting local health and care organisations in implementing core digital standards and modernising public access to information tools and services, according to a report by Government Computing Network, citing a leaked email from NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens.

Patient confidentiality

NHS - Shutterstock: © RTimages

NHS England confirmed the email was genuine, but declined further comment.

The CITO role would take over responsibility for IT as well as ensuring the security of patient data as the organisation moves to make patient records easier to share, according to the report.

No timetable has reportedly been set for the apointment of the CITO. Kelsey, who has been key in driving NHS England technology initiatives related to data sharing and making patient records accessible online by 2020, announced in September he plans to leave the NHS at the end of this year to move to Telstra Health.

The CITO will be expected to act as chair of the National Information Board (NIB), a role Kelsey took on last year, and to work with bodies such as the Department of Health, Public Health England, the Care Quality Commission and NHS Improvement, as well as the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which handles national information and technology infrastructure for health and social care, according to the email.

‘Modern data services’

The role will be responsibile for commissioning “modern data services” for patients, commissioners and clinicians, the email said.

The NHS has seen some of its digital initiatives, such as the controversial care.data programme, delayed due to the privacy concerns accompanying the digitisation of patient data sharing processes.

In September a study published in journal BMC Medicine found that a number of mobile device-based health apps don’t properly secure customer data and have poor privacy standards that could allow personal information to be compromised.

The study examined 79 apps certified as clinically safe and trustworthy by the UK NHS Health Apps Library, which tests programs to ensure the apps meet standards of clinical and data safety.

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