Readers vote for no restrictions on speed of moves from NHS roles to private digital sector

This week has seen controversies over Juliet Bauer’s move from NHS England to a private company. Yet in our latest poll, a majority of Digital Health News readers said there should be no restrictions on how quickly senior leaders can move to the private digital sector after NHS employment.

Bauer, the former chief digital officer at the national commissioning body, has faced criticism for an article she contributed to The Times which made reference to LIVI – but which failed to mention the online GP provider was her new employer.  Bauer has previously worked for News International, owners of the Times.

Chair of the House of Commons’ public accounts committee and Labour MP, Meg Hillier, told The Financial Times she thought Juliet Bauer’s article was “jaw-droppingly inappropriate” while national CCIO Simon Eccles said it was “muddling”.

But a Digital Health News online poll – which attracted more than 400 responses – suggests many have a more relaxed attitude to digital leaders moving between sectors.

Asked whether there should be restrictions on how quickly individuals can take up private sector digital health jobs after leaving national digital leadership roles in the NHS, 53% of respondents said no.

This left 47% voting to say there should be such restrictions.

A number of readers also posted their thoughts in our comments section, both for and against tougher guidance.

One argued: “There should be open movement of expertise between public and private sectors both ways, to improve mutual understanding of what technology needs to do to meet the needs of patients and clinicians.

“The NHS needs to work to be seen as a great place to work, both to retain existing staff and to attract the best and the brightest.”

Another acknowledged there was the potential for “abuse of knowledge for people moving in either direction”. But, the commenter added: “That’s not solved by imposing a quarantine period but by solid governance around people who have moved.

“For the top spots in an organisation there should be clear rules of engagement/conduct that must be monitored. But there’s also huge potential for benefit of allowing leaders to move freely between these sectors.”

For senior civil servants, defined as agents of the Crown who work for government departments, a code of conduct prohibits them from taking up roles with suppliers in the area they have worked in for up to two years after leaving the Civil Service.  The same rules do not apply to staff in arms-length executive agencies such as NHS England.

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