Tim Kelsey, the founder of Dr Foster Intelligence who left last year for the consultants McKinsey and Company, is to become the government’s ‘transparency tsar.’

The Financial Times reported that Kelsey is being brought into Downing Street as one of a number of appointments to strengthen the government’s policy and presentation function.

He will be “charged with a fresh push to open up data on Britain’s public services – in particular, education, health and social care,” according to the paper.

Kelsey started as a journalist for the Independent and Sunday Times, and was one of the co-founders of Dr Foster in 2000.

The organisation is best known for its annual hospital rankings, although these have not been uncontroversial, with some hospitals claiming its methodology is not replicable and the results can cause unnecessary upset to patients.

Dr Foster Intelligence was set up as a joint venture with the NHS Information Centre, in a move the Commons’ public accounts committee condemned as a “backroom deal”.

Following a review of Dr Foster Intelligence conducted by KPMG, the Department of Health announced last November that it would sell its shares. No buyer has been secured.

Kelsey left in February last year to work on international health projects for McKinsey. However, over the past two years he has made outspoken comments about the importance of opening up data – and particularly primary care data – to NHS patients.

At this month’s Healthcare Innovation Expo, he said GPs should set up simple websites along the lines of TripAdvisor to help patients make choices about their treatment.

“We can’t just run the NHS on hospital data,” he told the event. He also urged media organisations to set up new publications to review healthcare facilities, in the way that many review cars and other products.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley is also pushing the patient choice and information agenda. The DH published a consultation to support his ‘Liberating the NHS’ white paper that promised an ‘information revolution’ for patients.

The outcome of the consultation – a new information strategy for the NHS – is expected later this spring. EHI understands it will be backed up by a new IT strategy.

Kelsey also has a record of being impatient about concerns about consent and confidentiality, particularly around the release of datasets involving small numbers of patients.

“The public are much more radical than policy makers assume,” he claimed at the Expo. “This is not big brother: this is the opposite.”