A valuable encounter with Gary McAllister, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Chief Technical Officer

Lawrence Petalidis is a Digital Health (NHS) Navigator for the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme.

On Friday 7 October the NHS Navigators (Hannah, James, Olivia, and myself) met the CTO of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Gary McAllister, for an introductory IT session.

Gary was welcoming, friendly and relaxed. The meeting had no set agenda, but soon developed into one of the most structured and useful technical discussions we’ve had to date. Gary has 20 years of experience in healthcare IT. We all thought this must have meant he started coding when he was 15…!

Gary has seen pretty much every IT transformation or transition out there, across tech and clinical contexts. His approach was warm, direct and sharp, yet reassuring – exactly what we needed.

Discussion flowed with key IT topics coming to the surface, and Gary shared his insights on:

  • G-cloud: critique and limitations
  • The importance of FHIR / HL7 information standards
  • The difficulty providers often have in understanding the importance of good code, after sales services and proper service level agreements.

It was all very efficient and clear!

But the IT introductory masterclass really started when Gary picked up the marker and offered a board improvisation on IT systems flow: from patient to GP, from referral to diagnostics ordering, from EHRs to prescribing to the myriad of subsystems scattered like islands in trust seas… He transformed this endless, complex system of equations and code into a tangible, clear story. Even his handwriting is readable, surely a rarity! Gary’s talk is straight, clear, structured and to the point. No wobbles, no fuzzy concepts, no spin or unnecessary jargon.

Gary McAllister

To me, Gary encapsulates what both the NHS IT directorates and the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme needs –a friendly, been-there-done-that, hands-on “technical heavyweight”, and a thinker who’s keen to help.