NHS IT programme loses PR chief

The top PR professional for the heavily-criticised NHS 'Connecting for Health' programme has quit.

James Herbert, who holds the title director of external affairs, will exit in March, potentially leaving the beleaguered multi-billion pound programme without a senior in-house PR adviser. He has spent three years at the forefront of the Government’s attempts to try and digitise patient records.

In a written statement to PRWeek, Herbert – who intends to become a freelance consultant and is a former head of group media at Shell – said: ‘With experience of comms in government, energy, IT and health, I’m looking to strike out on my own.’

It is not known what will happen to his role – considered to be a poisoned chalice by many industry pundits.

CFH advertised a head of news role in the autumn but no longer plans to fill the role, having brought in Good Relations late last year (PRWeek, 24 Nov 2006).

The programme has come under hostile fire for spiralling costs, running behind schedule, and has been slammed by medical bodies.

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