Richard Granger, Director General of NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) last week told NHS IT professionals that the time had come for them to be more involved in the National Programme, which he argued would offer opportunities for them to “move from the machine room to the board room”.

In his speech at last week’s annual conference of the Association of ICT Professionals in Health and Social Care (ASSIST) in Birmingham, Mr Granger called on NHS IT professionals to better engage with the National Programme, telling them it was “time for people to move from the terraces and get onto the pitch”.

Asked about possible transfers of NHS IT staff to the private sector – under TUPE arrangements – he stressed that he did not want to see NHS IT capability canibalised: “I would like to be in a position where the NHS capability is left intact, rather than the private sector taking people out of the Service – that would be robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Mr Granger went on to urge caution about job offers from firms at this stage of the National Programme: “I think that NHS staff should be very wary of juicy offers from independent contractors who do not have NHS contracts.”

The Director General also stressed that the National Programme offered huge potential career opportunities for NHS IT professionals. “If the service grasps the nettle it will be an opportunity for NHS IT professionals to move from the machine room to the boardroom.”

Commenting on Mr Grainger’s statements Ian White Vice-Chair of ASSIST told E-Health Insider: "We recognise the concerns which members have about keeping staff within the NHS. However the National Programme has emphasised that the project is about adding to capacity and not about taking resources out of the NHS.”