The Department of Health has announced that it has appointed Charles Gutteridge as the first national clinical director for informatics.
Dr Gutteridge has been the medical director at Barts and the London NHS Trust since 2002, and the DH says he has been closely involved in confidentiality, patient safety and informatics issues.
He was the Caldicott Guardian for Barts, led the Health Foundation’s Safer Patients Initiative from 2006-8, and chaired the Clinical Informatics Design Authority.
This gave clinical advice about improving the use of Cerner Millennium under the National Programme for IT in the NHS, when it suffered significant problems following its implementation at the trust in 2008.
Dr Gutteridge issued a public apology to staff, GPs and patients affected by the problems, which included a small number of patients with urgent appointments for cancer having their appointments delayed and other patients being booked into closed clinics.
He also wrote a detailed and critical report on the problems faced by Barts when its IT infrastructure was infected by the Mytob worm in November 2008.
In a statement, Dr Gutteridge said: “This is an exciting time to be at the cutting edge of delivering informatics to improve patient care.
“As recent events have shown, there is a sea change in clinical attitudes to informatics and the National Programme for IT. My colleagues know that good, accessible information enormously raises the quality of treatment and diagnosis we can provide to the public.
“My work with medical under-graduates confirms that these expectations are strong amongst the next generation of doctors. I hope to contribute to encouraging those attitudes and enabling dialogue between clinical staff, patients and informatics providers.”
Christine Connelly, DH director general for informatics, said: “We are delighted to have someone of Charles’ calibre on board.
“His clinical background, coupled with his extensive experience in patient safety and informatics issues, means he can provide leadership, ensuring we have clinical support as we implement change to benefit patients.”
Dr Gutteridge has been a consultant haematologist at Newham General Hospital and at Barts.
Unusually for a medical director, he had held another senior NHS management role, having been acting chief executive at Newham for a year in the mid-1990s. He was then medical director at Newham until he moved to Barts.
He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Pathologists and chaired the Association of UK University Hospitals’ Medical Directors group, of which he is still a member.
As a member of the London review acute group, he also provided clinical advice to Lord Darzi’s review of the health service in the capital, which preceded the Next Stage Review of the NHS that reported in 2008.
Dr Gutteridge will take up his latest appointment later this month.