NHS England has extended its search for a new chief information and technology officer, after initial interviews failed to find a suitable candidate.

An NHS England spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday the commissioning group was doing another round of recruiting because “it was important we get the right person”.

“The chief technology and information officer will have a crucial role to play in modernising the health service and it’s important we take the time to find the right person.”

She would not confirm reports that four candidates had applied for the role or the identity of any of the candidates.

The CITO role is a new one at NHS England, created after the former director of patients and information Tim Kelsey resigned last year to take up a new role in Australia.

Six months after Kelsey left, the role has not been filled.

The exact responsibilities of the CITO remain unclear, but it will have a narrower scope than Kelsey was given to drive and deliver technological changes.

The orginal job advertisement last year decribed the role as a "visible and influential leadership position, and one that will impact on the lives of millions of people" requiring "a truly inspirational and transformational leader”.

However, instead of reporting to the board the new CITO will report to Matthew Swindells, who has just recently started as NHS England’s national director for commissioning operations and information.

Swindells has a long history of working for Health IT, both from within and outside the NHS, most recent as an executive at Cerner.

An NHS England spokeswoman confirmed Swindells’ role would have a technology component that would have previously been overseen by Kelsey.

“It’s more like Matthew is the new Tim rather than the new CITO is the new Tim.”

In April, Beverley Bryant, then NHS England’s digital technology director, said the CTIO role would report to NHS Improvement as well as Swindells.

“It will be a far reaching role that will build on what Tim did but links to operations.”

Bryant herself has since moved to Health and Social Care Information Centre, soon to be renamed NHS Digital, taking with her many of responsibilities around health IT previously that were previously the purview of the commissioning body.

These include standards development and implementation; the implementation and uptake of digital and online services; the delivery of major programmes and services; and primary responsibility for the procurement and management of contracts and relationships with third parties.

NHS England did not respond to questions about how the next round of recruiting would be conducted.