Connecting for Health (CfH) boss and the government’s highest paid civil servant, Richard Granger has resigned.

Granger, who held the £290,000-a-year post of overseeing the £12.4-billion Nation Health Service (NHS) IT transformation programme (NPfIT), had said only last week in a interview that he was hoping for ‘calmer waters’ for the project following much criticism over the project’s creeping scope and deadlines.

CfH is already two years behind schedule, has faced problems updating and integrating the disparate legacy systems of different NHS Trusts and has most recently suffered supplier setbacks, involving the withdrawal of one main systems integrator, Accenture and the financial and leadership-related problems that have hit its main clinical software supplier, iSoft.

His reasons for resigning were not made public, but he is said to be considering new job offers from the private sector. But industry watchers have predicted this could be a fatal blow for the largest IT integration project in Europe, while others have speculated whether Granger and his reportedly acerbic and demanding leadership style will be missed.

Last week, Granger was questioned by MPs about the progress of the project and appeared upbeat about its progress. “I passionately believe the programme will deliver ever greater levels of benefit to patients over the coming years,” he said, pointing to the introduction of ‘choose and book’ – one major plank of the NPfIT responsible for centralising hospital appointment bookings – as evidence of progress.

Over the weekend Lord Hunt, the health minister, reportedly dismissed suggestions Granger’s departure would hinder the programme.