Out going NHS CIO Matthew Swindells is to call on IT professionals to “play their part” and get involved in the huge level of change that the NHS is witnessing at present. Swindells is the keynote for the HC2008 Conference on Monday, 21 April, where he will demand greater IT input to the NHS. CIO revealed last week that Swindells is leaving the NHS to join the consultancy world.

Swindells will use his speech in Harrogate, Yorkshire, to tell healthcare workers that information and technology have a strategic role in the NHS, especially in implementing the radical changes they health service is going through. “Information saves lives, so information professionals need to step forward and play their part in creating an NHS that is founded on quality, evidence and empowerment,” Swindells said.

Swindells took over as he head of the Connecting for Health programme in January after the resignation of Richard Granger. Last week he surprised the health and IT world by announcing his plans to join Tribal Group to head up its health strategy. Tribal provides consulting to NHS trusts and other clients on IT as well as building and staff issues. Swindells’ career in the NHS has included stints as the chief executive of the Royal Surrey County Hospital and head of IT for the Guy’s and St Thomas foundation trust before joining Connecting for Health.

Professor Stephen Kay, who is chairman of HC2008 Programme Committee and a leading expert on health informatics said IT is creating “new working partnerships” in the NHS which will provide a joined up service and that everyone in healthcare understands the information needs of their colleagues.

IT is expected to be given a central role in further modernisation of the NHS by Lord Ara Darzi, who is conducting a review of the NHS for prime minister Gordon Brown. The Lords health minister and a working surgeon will deliver his report in June. It is a wide assessment of the NHS, covering issues such as access to GPs and hospital infeactions. He is expected to call for the NHS to work with the Wellcome Trust to advance technology usage in the NHS. The Wellcome Trust is one of the largest providers of research funding and is a charitable trust.

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