Matthew Swindells, a former chief information officer at the NHS, has joined one of the health service’s two main software suppliers on the troubled National Programme for IT.
Swindells will be a senior executive at Cerner, which supplies the Millennium patient administration system to hospital trusts in London and the south of England. Some early rollouts of Millennium – and Lorenzo, the equivalent system from rival supplier iSoft – faced substantial difficulties.
The move comes weeks ahead of the announcement of the conclusion of a major review of NHS IT, under which the coalition government has promised to a introduce a “more plural system of IT and other suppliers”. The government has indicated it plans to introduce more local decision making to the programme, but has so far declined to reveal details.
Swindells, who had been head of IT at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and chief executive at Royal Surrey County Hospital, became NHS interim CIO in 2008.
After only two months in the job, he left to join Tribal Group, a consulting firm that counts NHS trusts among clients, as managing director of health, and oversaw more than a doubling in revenue and profits. He is currently head of the health informatics division at the British Computer Society.
At the NHS, where effectively he took over from the combative head of NHS Connecting for Health, Richard Granger, Swindells was credited with ordering a major review of IT. The review, by Lord Darzi, insisted patients must be able to access their own health records online.
Swindells has said on a number of occasions that IT leaders have “failed” to make a strong case for technology and how it could improve services at hospitals. This was affecting the uptake of systems in the NHS, he said.
Neal Patterson, chief executive at Cerner, which is based in Kansas City, said Swindells has “both an instinct and vision for how to change healthcare delivery and improve quality while lowering costs, as well as an impressive track record of transforming organisations of all sizes”. Swindells would work “at all levels of national health systems”, he said.