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Creating a new NHS England: NHS England and NHS Digital merged on 1 February 2023. More about the merger.

The HSCIC is led by a board made up of:

  • a non-executive chair appointed by the Secretary of State for Health
  • at least five further non-executive members, also appointed by the Secretary of State
  • a chief executive officer, the first of whom is appointed by the Secretary of State
  • any other executive board members appointed by the non-executive members - the total number of executive members must be fewer than the number of non-executive members

The Permanent Secretary has appointed a Senior Departmental Sponsor (SDS) who will act as the HSCIC's designated, consistent point of contact within the Department. The SDS will act as the link at executive level between the HSCIC and the senior officials of the Department, and also with ministers. Whilst the SDS role is facilitative and recognises the need for direct engagement between HSCIC and other parts of the Department and ministers, it also supports the Permanent Secretary in holding the HSCIC to account and providing assurance on its performance. The SDS is currently the Director General for Information and Group Operations. The SDS will be supported by a Departmental sponsor team, which will be the principal day-to-day liaison between the Department and the HSCIC.

Process for setting objectives

The process for setting objectives for HSCIC will be undertaken annually. The objectives will be set out in a letter from the SDS to the Chief Executive of the HSCIC before the start of the financial year and will be published. The letter will be reviewed annually and re-published where any changes or additions are made.

The HSCIC will produce a strategy covering a 3-5 year period. The HSCIC will reach agreement with the Department and other relevant ALBs on its strategy. To facilitate comment, the strategy will be shared and discussed in advance of clearance by the HSCIC's board. The HSCIC will be made aware of any concerns the Department or relevant ALBs may have over the content of the plan. The HSCIC will also produce a business plan each year demonstrating how it will meet its legal duties and deliver its objectives. The Department will provide guidance to support this process, which will include target budgets covering administration, programme, revenue and capital funding. The HSCIC will reach agreement with the Department on its business plan. To facilitate comment from the Department, including relevant ministers, the business plan will be shared and discussed in advance of clearance with the HSCIC‟s board. The HSCIC will be made aware of any concerns the Department may have over the content of the plan.

Discharge of statutory functions

The HSCIC will ensure that it has appropriate arrangements in place for the discharge of each of the statutory functions for which it is responsible and is clear about the legislative requirements associated with each of them, specifically any restrictions on the delegation of those functions. It will ensure that it has the necessary capacity and capability to undertake those functions, and will ensure that it has the statutory power to take on a statutory function on behalf of another person or body before it does so. HSCIC will also ensure that there is periodic auditof the discharge of its statutory functions so that the delivery of them remains effective, efficient and legally compliant.


Under the terms of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (section 254) the Secretary of State or NHS England may direct the HSCIC to establish and operate a system for the collection or analysis of information of a description specified in the direction.

The HSCIC will ensure that the Department is kept aware of any Directions, and their impact, which may be received from NHS England and of the impact of any Directions received from the Department. This will include the impact on costs and on deliverables already included in the annual business plan.

The Department sponsor team will liaise with Department policy leads wishing to issue Directions to the HSCIC and the HSCIC to ensure that they are issued in an effective and efficient manner.

The HSCIC will maintain a record of all Directions issued as part of its corporate governance responsibilities.

Cross-government clearance

In addition to internal governance, cross-government clearance is required for major new policy decisions of the type set out in Cabinet Office guidance2. Although such cases are likely to be small in number, the Secretary of State will be responsible for obtaining clearance and the HSCIC will adhere to any conditions applied through the clearance process. There will also be cases where the Secretary of State must consult Cabinet colleagues before giving the Government's view, even if collective agreement is not required. In such cases, the HSCIC will supply the Secretary of State with any information he or she needs in a timely fashion.

HSCIC should include a review of this in its three-year audit cycle, but ensure that they take steps to sufficiently assure themselves on an annual basis and include details of this within their governance statement.

Guide to Cabinet and Cabinet Committees,

Last edited: 24 November 2021 1:38 pm