Keith McNeil, chief clinical information officer (CCIO) for NHS England, has resigned after 13 months in the role.

McNeil will return to Australia and take up an assistant deputy director general role at Queensland Health and chief medical information officer at Queensland.

Prior to his CCIO role in the UK he held the position of chief executive at Metro North Hospital and Health Service in Queensland for five years.

McNeil said he was returning for “personal and family reasons”.

“It has been and continues to be an enormous privilege to serve as the first chief clinical information officer for health and care in England”, he said.

McNeil said in a statement that there “is so much excellent work going on across the NHS at a national level and in hospitals and trusts up and down the country” and he will be keeping an eye on the developments.

NHS England has prioritised digital plans in the past 12 months, with the implementation of its global digital exemplar (GDE) flagship initiative.

The £160 million scheme will see money given to 16 exemplar trusts, with fast follower trusts expected to follow in their digital footsteps.

Matthew Swindells, NHS England’s national director of operations and information, described McNeil as an “exceptional ambassador for our digital transformation agenda and has helped raise the profile and importance of digital and IT in the NHS”.

McNeil was one of a troika of three new NHS England digital health leaders announced in July last year by NHS England. The other two were chief information officer (CIO) Will Smart and director of digital experience, Juliet Bauer.

In September last year, McNeil was also announced as head of a new digital delivery board, that was due to replace the Department of Health’s informatics portfolio management board.

Prior to holding a national role, McNeil was chief executive at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, during its Epic electronic patient record (EPR) implementation.

However, he resigned amidst the financial situation that the eHospital programme put the trust in, three years after he joined.

On the move, Rob Shaw, interim chief executive at NHS Digital, said McNeil has “shown the real value of having a clinical leader driving digital transformation and leading this agenda for health and care”.

“He has been an enigmatic leader to work with and someone I have great respect for as a person as well as a colleague. His integrity and commitment to a single team in terms of delivery is something that I hope we continue to build upon.

NHS England will shortly begin the recruitment process for McNeil’s replacement.