Details of the new NHS IT programme boss will be announced as early as next week, according to the headhunter leading the search.
But Barry Latchford, founder of the recruitment firm rallying potentials for the role, is keeping tight-lipped about the person appointed to run IT for the world's second largest employer.
The role of NHS director general of IT programmes - first advertised in early June - has been touted as one of the most challenging jobs in IT. Last month Latchford admitted that only a handful of the 100 or so applicants were up to the task.
"We're expecting for there to be an announcement in the next week or so," Latchford said. "The panel has met and we're now in that purdah area. It's taking longer than I would have expected."
The IT director general will be responsible for a programme of ambitious IT infrastructure and applications projects worth over £1bn a year over the next five year, including electronic patient records and clinical tools, electronic prescribing and electronic appointment booking.
But Latchford, who is also running a recruitment campaign for a head of delivery for the criminal justice IT service, warned that the government will need to be more creative about the sorts of packages it offers to high-level IT professionals as the recruitment market picks up.
The £75,000 criminal justice IT role is a three-year appointment to deliver IT systems to join up the Police, Crown Prosecution Service and the Prison Service.
"We've had a good response to these roles - government has a lot of traction at the moment. Salary is always an issue with government, but if the role is attractive enough people will sacrifice money for the experience of doing something they like," Latchford said.
But finding high-calibre IT candidates will become increasingly difficult as the market turns around, Latchford warned.
"Government is desperate for people who deliver big IT programmes," he said. "There are some very good people but just not enough to go around. At the moment it's opportunity restraint rather than resource restraint. Once that turns around, the public sector may have to be more creative in terms of bonuses."
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