Martin Bellamy

Martin Bellamy

Martin Bellamy, the head of NHS Connecting for Health, is to leave his position as director of programme and systems delivery for a new position at the Cabinet Office.

His departure comes as part of a wider shake-up of NHS Connecting for Health that will see the IT agency become directly managed by the Department of Health Informatics Directorate.

Director general of informatics Christine Connelly presented the new plans to CfH staff in Leeds yesterday. In an exclusive interview with E-Health Insider, she explained that the move was primarily intended to create a new integrated Informatics Directorate, and was not about cost savings.

“I talked about embedding the Informatics Directorate within the DH and all aspects of the delivery of healthcare,” said Connelly. She stressed that the challenge was to ensure informatics permeated and underpinned all of healthcare.

The very name of the agency, synomymous with the £12.7 billion National Programme for IT in the NHS, is uncertain. Connelly said consultation is now underway on how the CfH “brand” might best be used in the future.

Bellamy will depart at the beginning of July to take up a new Cabinet Office position. He will be responsible for developing the government’s strategy for cloud computing, GCloud, which was given prominence in the recent Digital Britain report.

He will leave just nine months after taking up the post in September 2008. His appointment was announced in August 2008, alongside that of Connelly, the DH’s first chief information officer.

The two jointly replaced Richard Granger, the former NHS director general of IT and head of CfH, who had left in January 2008. Gordon Hextall, who left the agency this April, acted as its head in the interim.

Although no direct replacement will be appointed, EHI has learned that Tim Donohoe will take responsibility for CfH, in his role as the Informatics Directorate’s head of programme and operations.

In March, it became clear that the DH Informatics Directorate was aiming to recast CfH as a “delivery organisation”, with technology policy, technology and strategy questions decided by a team, including Bellamy, that reported directly to Connelly. Some 1,155 staff work for CfH.

In her interview, Connelly said that the challenge on the National Programme and CfH was to “move from beyond programmes to operations and delivering services that will run for a very long time.”

To do this requires the programme “to get to stability and not large scale development.” Connelly added: “I spoke today about the need to look for the time when programmes finish."

She said this included planning for the world of very different needs that would exist at the end of NPfIT. “At the moment, the informatics programme is dominated by NPfIT, but when that is done there will be a whole lot of other things we need to do.”

Sources suggest that the relationship between Bellamy and Connelly has at times been strained, but they had worked jointly on the informatics strategy. Referring to Bellamy’s Cabinet Office position, a DH spokesperson said: “They came to a mutual agreement it was a good opportunity for him to follow."

Prior to joining CfH, Bellamy worked for the Department for Work and Pensions since 2003, where his main role was chief information officer for the Pension Service.