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NHS England to take over NHSX and NHS Digital


Mark Say Managing Editor


NHSX and NHS Digital are to be moved under the umbrella of NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI).

Stehtoscope by laptop

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed the plan along with the merger of Health Education England with NHSEI.

This comes after a review by Laura Wade-Gery, chair of NHS Digital and non-executive director of NHS England, recommending a more joined up approach to the work on digital transformation.

DHSCS said that merging the organisations within NHSEI will help ensure the health and care sector is fully equipped to face the future and deliver for patients.

NHSX and NHS Digital will form part of a new Transformation Directorate along with the functions for innovation, research and life sciences, and will continue to lead the work on digital transformation. NHSX, which is currently a joint unit of NHS England of DHSC, will gradually take on the strategy function.

NHS Digital will cease to be an independent arm’s length body of DHSC when the mergers have been approved by Parliament as part of the Health and Care Bill, which is expected to take place in summer of next year.

Simon Bolton, interim CEO of NHS Digital, will become the CIO of NHSEI.

Lasting impact

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said: “To ensure our record NHS investment makes a lasting impact, I am bringing workforce planning and digital transformation into the heart of the NHS.

“These reforms will support our recovery from COVID-19 and help us tackle waiting lists to give patients excellent care in years to come.

“I would like to pay tribute to all our colleagues at Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHSX for the enormous progress they have made, which we will continue to drive forward with their help.”

Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX, said the changes should provide a more coherent structure to accelerate digital transformation in health and care.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive said: “Digital and workforce are central to transforming the NHS to tackle the backlog and recover services after the Covid pandemic, as well of course deliver on our Long Term Plan commitments and maintain momentum of the lifesaving NHS Covid vaccination programme, all while looking after thousands of patients in hospital with the virus.

“By coming together in this way, the whole health service can continue progress in delivering these goals.”

According to a report in Digital Health Intelligence, Pritchard informed staff through a letter in advance of the DHSC announcement.

Since its formation two years ago NHSX has had responsibility for digital policy issues, while NHS Digital has been at arm’s length delivering various capabilities around technology and data. However, there has been some crossover through NHSX initiatives such as its NHS AI Lab.

Image from iStock, mongkhonkhamsao

Story amended with extra details on morning of 23 November after receipt of official announcement

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