Senior NHS Digital director Beverley Bryant is to leave the Leeds-based NHS IT agency to become chief operating officer (COO) of health software supplier System C.

On Wednesday (31 May) Bryant was confirmed as the new dual COO of System C, the specialist in hospital electronic patient record systems; and sister company Graphnet Care Alliance, a specialist in shared record systems.

She will become the most senior executive in the two companies after joint chief executives Ian Denley and Markus Bolton, founders of the original System C. Bryant will join the boards of both companies.

Bryant’s departure from NHS Digital comes shortly after being passed over for the role of chief executive, with the role instead being awarded in April to Sarah Wilkinson, chief technology officer from The Home Office.

Bryant joined NHS Digital in June 2016 after a restructure of NHS England following the arrival of Matthew Swindells, NHS England’s director of information, commissioning and operations, in Spring 2016, who replaced Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s flamboyant director of patients and information.

Bryant first came to national prominence in NHS IT circles for as NHS England’s director of digital technology, and Tim Kelsey’s highly effective lieutenant.

While at NHS England, between 2013-16, Bryant led the two NHS Tech Funds and Nursing Tech Funds and gained a reputation for fighting vigorously for IT investment money on behalf of NHS trusts with the Treasury and ministers.  She played a key role in securing the £4.2 billion funding commitment for NHS IT in the 2015 Spending Settlement.

The move will mark a return to the commercial world for Bryant, who has held senior IT positions at organisations including managing director Capita Health, before working at first NHS England as director of digital strategy, and since mid-2016 at NHS Digital as director of digital transformation.

She has also worked at a local level in the NHS, as director of performance at NHS Leeds and business development director at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Her NHS England role included playing a central role in negotiating the spending review settlement to deliver the NHS and social care digital strategy, heading the NHS e-Referral Service and the Patient Online programme, and helping to develop the ‘Personalised Health and Care 2020’ strategy.

Bryant was awarded Digital Leader of the Year 2017 in the Women in IT national awards.

Bryant commented: “The System C and Graphnet Care Alliance stand out for me because they work across the whole health and social care economy.  They have real drive, a substantial user base and an excellent delivery record.”

“Beverley could have chosen a role at any business in the UK so we are delighted that she chose to join us,” said Markus Bolton, joint chief executive and founder of System C, and director of Graphnet.

Bryant will take up the new role on 1 August.