“Stuff goes wrong all the time. You know, computers do fail. But what we’re seeing is a sort of hysterical coverage. What I should be judged on is whether we’re fixing it quickly and ensuring it’s as good as anything else anywhere on the planet. Measure me on those things and I know we will not be found lacking.”
For a man better known for savaging suppliers, with an apparent ‘lead me, follow me, or get out of my way’ attitude, 42-year-old Richard Granger, director general of IT, NHS, is surprisingly plaintive. We met in Whitehall a few weeks before he announced his departure at the end of this year after five years in what must be the biggest, highest profile civilian CIO job in Europe.
"“There is a little coterie of people out there who are alleged experts and who worked on this programme. They were dismissed for reasons of non-performance or in one case, for breach of commercial confidentiality”"
Richard Granger, director general of IT, NHS
Granger has heard a lot of domestic condemnation of his role over the past five years. Critics argue the project is too complex; that it should have a more localised approach; or one based on smartcards; and that his mismanagement of finances has resulted in a £12 billion bill that is fast rocketing to £50bn. Or just pick a number.
Granger could never win at the NHS but he brought a vigour to the role, which alienated many; the contractors may be the same old, same old but they are being managed and paid under rigorous operational delivery targets; and Granger is clearly as fanatical about value for the taxpayer as he is passionate about the NHS.
Granger has been lambasted for budget overruns but, “it’s complete garbage,” he says.