The former CEO of NHSX has left NHS England and Improvement, Digital Health News has learned.

Matthew Gould officially left as national director for digital transformation at NHS England and Improvement, and director general for digital transformation in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), at the end of April. The role, which he took on after the NHSX brand was disbanded in January, meant Gould had oversight of the “joint digital policy and strategy team”.

Before the brand was retired, Gould was the CEO of NHSX – a transformation unit set up by former secretary of state Matt Hancock in 2019 to accelerate digital innovation in the NHS.

In a note to staff, Gould also confirmed that Simon Madden and Catherine Pollard would be heading up the Digital Transformation Directorate of DHSC.

“The work we have done together over the past three years has been the most important of my career,” he added.

“We have changed the trajectory of the NHS and social care, helped both through the pandemic, and touched millions of lives through the changes we have brought.

“We have forged brilliant partnerships, and done a pretty good job at being the open, creative, respectful team we wanted to be.”

During the Covid pandemic, NHSX was charged with developing the NHS Covid-19 App. Gould and NHSX came under intense public scrutiny for repeated delays to the app and the technical approach chosen.

More successful projects were rapid action on national deals for Attend Anywhere, AccuRX and Microsoft Teams, that supported remote care and working, and strong guidance to encourage data sharing.

Gould was praised for ensuring he developed a dialogue with a wide variety of local NHS IT leaders and other arms-length bodies to understand their priorities.

Dr James Reed, who is chair of the Digital Health CIO Network, said: “I well remember the excitement that surrounded Matthew’s appointment to NHSX.

“I always felt that he was genuinely interested in the work we were all doing and was keen to do what he could to support it. He also showed a direct interest in the networks which was very refreshing, and took time out to speak to us on many occasions.

“He was helpful in giving us influence in areas we had not reached before, including for a brief period to the Secretary of State himself. In general terms I always felt that the agenda pursued by NHSX in terms of promoting interoperability was the right one. So this marks the end of a brief era, and I wish him well for the future”

Up until the abolition of NHSX, the organisation had been pursuing a digital strategy broadly based around interoperability and targeted investments to raise levels of digital maturity.

Though Digital Health News understands that since the appointment of Dr Tim Ferris as director of digital transformation at NHS England and NHS Improvement, the focus has dramatically shifted away from interoperability to standardisation on common systems, particularly Epic.

Before joining NHSX, Gould was the government’s director general for digital and media policy for 3 years. Prior to that he was British Ambassador to Israel and the UK government’s Director of Cyber Security. He has also done postings in Tehran, Islamabad, Washington and Manila.

Digital Health News understands that news of Gould’s departure has not been confirmed due to delays in agreeing an official announcement.