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What we do

NHS Digital is the national digital, data and technology delivery partner for the NHS and social care system,  with expertise in the design, development and operation of complex IT and data systems.

Our most critical responsibility is maintaining the reliability, performance and security of the core infrastructure, platforms and live services on which the NHS and social care system relies.

The core infrastructure and platforms, including the NHS Spine, allow information to be shared securely across thousands of local and national organisations and connect the digital services that patients and clinicians use. We run this infrastructure with exceptional reliability and efficiency and provide the central cyber security leadership, capability and support that keeps data safe and services running.

NHS Digital designs, builds and procures new digital products and services on behalf of commissioners across primary, secondary and social care. We keep a sharp focus on user needs and try to create products that improve the lives of members of the public and help professionals do their jobs better. We collaborate closely with Britain’s thriving healthcare technology market, developing partnerships that are not only critical to effective healthcare delivery today but that will become the bedrock of transformation tomorrow.

We are also the data custodian for England’s health and social care system, with responsibility for collecting, protecting, linking and disseminating some of the world’s most valuable health and care data assets. As the primary provider of official statistics and analysis to the NHS and social care, we also provide the trusted and independent insight that underpins the management and improvement of our system.

We are guided by an absolute respect for individuals’ privacy and by an unwavering commitment to the highest data processing standards, but also an understanding of the importance of the data we hold to the UK’s medical research and life sciences sectors and to improving health and care outcomes in the UK and around the world.

Our work is about empowering the public, helping professionals and producing information that improves treatment and makes taxpayers’ money go further.


How we are changing

  1. We are creating technology platforms so that others can build on them. We use open-source software, shared standards, application programming interfaces (APIs), micro-services and reusable data services to support collaboration and innovation.
  2. We are transforming our data architecture and services, improving performance so that more complex data sets can flow more quickly and building analytics capabilities using machine learning and natural language processing.
  3. All new services are cloud- and internet- first. We are helping system partners migrate to the cloud quickly and safely.
  4. We will work with NHSX to coordinate and control local digital investment and help local and national partners get the best value for money from their IT suppliers.
  5. We will continue to provide the system and our arm’s length body partners with a centre of expertise for the planning, design and delivery of digital and data systems. We will continue to  develop the infrastructural, operational and  governance  standards that allow key IT systems, and the people who use them, to work effectively and securely together.
  6. Our Org2 transformation programme is restructuring NHS Digital’s workforce, and focusing our capability on critical technologies and specialist skills. It will continue through to 2020-21.

Some delivery highlights in 2018-19





How we are organised

During 2018-19, we continued to develop our operating models and structures to allow us to meet our commitments to the health and care system.

Our programmes, services and corporate functions are grouped together into seven directorates, which provide clear lines of accountability, integrated delivery and a strategic perspective on what our customers and the health and care system require.

Image of operating model graphic

Corporate services

The centre of expertise and management for financial, commercial, people and workforce functions. In addition, for approximately the next 18 to 24 months, will deliver the Org 2 programme to reshape the way we organise ourselves to deliver work, the way we develop our capabilities and our internal operational tooling.

Product development

Designs and delivers new applications and services commissioned by NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England and other arm’s-length bodies to help citizens, patients and clinicians across primary, secondary and social care. Leverages the external healthcare market and fosters digital knowledge, understanding and appetite across the system.

Platforms and infrastructure

Provides the core infrastructure and platforms that connect the vast number of digital service providers across the health and care system. Delivers an increasing number of platforms to support NHS Digital’s data management and product development activities (for example, facilitating cloud usage, identity and access management).

Strategy, policy and governance

Defines our strategic agenda based on the needs of our clients and evolving political, technical, government and market environments. Liaises with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHSX, third parties and internal teams to ensure policy and governance coherence and clarity. Provides clinical and information governance guidance and oversight.

Assurance and Risk Management

A strategic and collaborative partner that maximises specialist expertise to provide independent assurance that strategic and delivery risks are appropriately managed across live services, change programmes and corporate functions, within our risk appetite. Provides accurate and timely information, intelligence, analysis, insight, agreed standards and oversight to enable robust decision-making and compliance.

Data, Insights and Statistics

As the data custodian for the health and care system, we have primary responsibility for driving data quality, linking data across the system, and providing reliable statistics and insights. The Data, Insights and Statistics directorate is guided by an absolute respect for data privacy and a commitment to empowering healthcare research and the UK life sciences sector.

Live Services and Cyber Security

Responsible for the reliable, performant and secure operation of all live systems and services that we operate for the health and care system. Includes the Information Technology Operations Centre (ITOC) and the Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC).


Case study: Academy at NHS Digital

David Indrawes, NHS Digital graduate scheme recruit

NHS Digital graduate scheme recruit David Indrawes is working in our Digital Delivery Centre on the systems that allow members of the public to set preferences about the use of their data for research and planning.

“This is one of the most interesting projects at NHS Digital because it is built on the cloud. It’s incredibly exciting,” he says.

The project is the sixth David has worked on since joining our graduate scheme in January 2017. He embarked on a career at NHS Digital after coming to the UK from his native Egypt to complete a master’s degree. He has also worked on the Patient Objection Service (which filters out the data from opted-out patients, preventing it from being shared), the National Cancer Waiting Times system and the Secondary Uses Service.

He says the variety has provided him with a breadth of experience and  helped  him be more adaptable.

“It challenges you in the best way because once you get into your comfort zone you move on and need to start from scratch on a different project.

It has given me five years’ worth of experience in just two years. It never gets boring.”

The 26-year-old says the role he can play in improving healthcare technology to benefit patients is one of his main motivations.

"I am helping patients to have better experiences. Knowing that my work is having an impact is very important to me."


Working at NHS Digital not only enables the computer and systems engineering graduate to use the latest technology, but also to develop his career in a creative environment.

“People of all levels learn from each other to bring fresh ideas and share skills and knowledge.

“When I joined as a graduate, I was afraid that I might be given mainly admin jobs, but it was totally the opposite. I received support to be able to choose my own pieces of work right from the start. I’ve also been able to build products from scratch – giving me the satisfaction of owning something I built. As someone with an entrepreneurial mindset, working here fulfils my ambitions as it gives graduates the support and freedom to shine.”

David completed the graduate scheme in January 2019 and now has a permanent position at NHS Digital.

Last edited: 13 January 2020 4:07 pm