NHS Digital merged into NHS England

A legal merger of NHS England and NHS Digital has been formally confirmed. Following parliamentary approval, the regulations abolish NHS Digital and transfer its functions to NHS England.

The transfer, which will include all existing protections for data, sees NHS England become responsible for national health and social care datasets and the single executive non-departmental public body with responsibility for digital technology, data and health service delivery in the NHS.

The merger comes ahead of the incorporation of the body responsible for the education and training of the health workforce – Health Education England – into the new NHS England on 1 April 2023.

It is expected that by the end of 2023/24, the new organisation will be between 30-40 per cent smaller than the current combined size of NHS England, Health Education England and NHS Digital.

NHS England’s Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard, said:

“Digital, data and technology already underpin so much of our personal and professional lives. Harnessing the enormous potential they hold will be key to supporting our continued management of and recovery from the pandemic, delivering on our Long Term Plan, and making services better and more sustainable – crucially in ways that support staff to do their best work, and deliver more convenient services for patients.

“Our colleagues from NHS Digital bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise, and a track record of delivering major data and digital projects and services, which will continue to be invaluable in our aim to help the NHS transform and improve the health and care of the people it serves.”

Simon Bolton, Interim CEO at NHS Digital, said:

“Our merger with NHS England creates the opportunity to put digital at the heart of the NHS and build on what we’ve already achieved at NHS Digital.

“Technology and data are helping to improve people’s lives every day, whether ordering a repeat prescription through the NHS App, getting the latest health advice from the NHS website, or arranging a Covid vaccine using our national online booking service.

“We’re proud to be making a real difference to both colleagues in the NHS and the people that it serves.

“The merger will help us continue that journey as one central organisation, using digital to transform the NHS and provide the best care possible for patients.”