NHS England chief information officer Will Smart ‘set to move on’


Will Smart, chief information officer (CIO) for health and care in England, looks set to move on after three years in the role, Digital Health News understands.

Sources have told Digital Health News that Smart is expected to shortly announce he is leaving his role as part of the wholesale shake-up of national NHS IT leadership, resulting from the merger of NHS England and NHS Improvement and creation of NHSX, the new agency responsible for digital.

His departure would be the latest in a string of high-profile national IT leaders from NHS England leaving the NHS.

Matthew Swindells, Smart’s former boss and head of IT at NHSE, departed for Accenture in May, while former chief digital officer Juliet Bauer left to join online GP start-up Livi in April.

Inderjit Singh, who reported to Smart, and led on the Local Health and Care Record Exemplar (LHCRE) programme and architecture and cyber security, announced he was leaving the NHS to join PA Consulting, last week.

If Smart’s departure is confirmed, and sources suggest its now just a discussion about terms, only chief clinical information officer (CCIO), Simon Eccles, would remain of the previous IT leadership team at NHSE.

One source told Digital Health News, “Will always said he’d do three years, which is up in August, and with Matthew [Swindells] having now gone it does seem the logical time for him to go.”

Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX is currently on a tour of the NHS, ahead of taking up the official position on 1 July.

Gould is also beginning a recruitment drive for a new Chief Technology Officer.

Prior to becoming the national NHS CIO, Smart was CIO at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust for six years.

As NHS CIO, Smart has been most closely associated with the Global Digital Exemplar programme (including the Royal Free) and the LHCRE programme, both high-profile policies championed by Matthew Swindells.

Smart was chair of judging panel for the Digital Health Awards 2019 earlier this month. He is due to speak at the Digital Health Summer Schools on 19 July.

NHS England has been repeatedly approached for comment and declined to respond.

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