The Health and Social Care Information Centre (publicly known as NHS Digital and referred to henceforth as NHSD) is an executive non-departmental public body, accountable to the Secretary of State for Health and to Parliament.
NHS Digital's statutory role is set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and additional requirements are conferred on the organisation through the Care Act 2014. NHSD may also undertake additional functions under directions from the Department of Health (referred to hereafter as DH) or the NHS Commissioning Board (publicly known as NHS England and referred to throughout this document as NHS England) or under Mandatory Requests from other Primary Bodies, as outlined in the Act.
The operational relationship between DH and NHSD is set out in the Framework Agreement signed by both parties.
The priorities for the health and care system in operational, policy and development terms are set out in the:
- Shared Delivery Plan for 2016/17 and the Single Departmental Plan for 2017/18
Five Year Forward View
For information and technology, in the Personalised Health and Care 2020 report which has been translated into ten implementation domains currently encompassing 33 programmes, live service and statutory functions over the spending review period.
DH, NHSD, NHS England and NHS Improvement have designed a revised model for technology and information governance with the intention of clarifying accountability and assurance following operationalisation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 in specific reference to technology and information programmes. To clarify commissioning, funding, accountability and delivery, a Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO) has been appointed, given a system wide remit by DH and employed by NHS England (reporting into NHS England and NHS Improvement), and the key elements of the new governance approach are:-
- DH determines policy and strategic context and sets delegated authorities and controls
- CCIO chairs the National Information Board and the Digital Delivery Board (DDB) and identifies and prioritises the technology and information requirements of the health and care system and commissions services, within the context and constraints of the information and technology implementation domains and funding
- This activity is set within a wider context where DH continues to require NHS Digital to undertake its statutory duties and other functions beyond the remit of the CCIO, or in furtherance of government policy
- DH provides capital, revenue and administrative funding directly to NHSD, for which the NHSD is accountable, reporting to DDB, DH and the NHS Digital Board.
- NHSD is the principal delivery partner for technology and information programmes and services, utilising direct delivery and wider procurement and contracts as appropriate.
- The CCIO and DH discharge prioritisation discussions and funding allocation for technology and information programmes, in full discussion with NHSD, through the Digital Delivery Board (DDB). This is the primary mechanism for oversight, approvals and assurance, although elements of key programmes sit within wider accountability and governance contexts. It also provides a single place to discuss interactions with wider NHSD activity and to drive benefits realisation.
This DH to NHSD remit enables the DH and the CCIO to set out the deliverables and requirements for a defined period, to which NHSD responds with a formal annual business plan.