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Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. More about the merger.

Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England merger

Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged into a single organisation.

All references to NHS Digital now, or in the future, relate to NHS England.

For the former NHS Digital service, this means that NHS England has assumed responsibility for all activities previously undertaken by NHS Digital. This includes running the vital national IT systems which support health and social care, as well as the collection, analysis, publication and dissemination of data generated by health and social care services, to improve outcomes. 

Those systems and services, functions, processes and structures that were the responsibility of NHS Digital, will continue to operate as normal and contracts will automatically transfer to NHS England, with terms and conditions unchanged. 

We will work together over the first half of 2023/24 to develop the new, more streamlined structures and processes that will support our NHS. 

As a single organisation, this new NHS England will be more responsive to the biggest challenges and opportunities of the system. It is now the single non-departmental government body responsible for digital technology, data and health service delivery in the NHS.

Why these changes have happened

The NHS has been redesigned around the creation of integrated care systems, and this requires a redesign at the centre of the NHS in England.

Data and technology power our NHS.

They are crucial to:

  • working in more efficient ways
  • improving diagnosis and treatment
  • understanding and improving our services 

This merger will reduce duplication, bringing the NHS’s national data and technology expertise together into one organisation. This will allow us to collaborate more effectively and to empower local organisations to benefit from data and technology, supporting the best care for patients. 

The merger follows a recommendation in Laura Wade-Gery’s review:

Cyber security

NHS England has taken on responsibility for running critical national infrastructure for the NHS. It is supported by the existing dedicated cyber security capability that protects and monitors the systems and information in its care. 

NHS England continues to work closely with the National Cyber Security Centre to understand the threats and manage the security risks. It also has wider responsibility for the cyber-resilience of the NHS. 

More specifically, NHS England has several cyber security responsibilities:

  • managing the security risks to NHS England data
  • enabling the wider NHS to reduce cyber risk
  • improving services and continuing to manage the overarching risk
  • leading improved cyber outcomes in NHS England and the system

Our technology, systems and services

There are no changes for those who used technology, systems and services that were the responsibility of what was known as NHS Digital. The ways that you previously contacted NHS Digital and the services that it ran will remain the same.

Contracts with NHS Digital

The merger has been completed by a statute change, and any contracts that are subject to UK law have been transferred automatically to NHS England under those regulations.

You do not need to take any action to effect the transfer of your contract. 

We have written to all NHS Digital's previous suppliers to tell them how to change their billing systems. If you have not received that letter, if you hold any contracts that are not subject to UK law with what was previously NHS Digital, or have any other queries about your contract, contact [email protected].

If you have a contract for NHS Digital to supply you with a system or service then this remains valid and the contract has automatically transferred to NHS England.

Download our letter to suppliers

Data sharing agreements with NHS Digital

You do not need to take any action and you will continue to receive the data for which you have approval.

Our standard data sharing agreements and contracts have now moved over to NHS England. Should your public-facing materials, for example privacy notices or participant information sheets, mention NHS Digital, you should change those references to NHS England at the next update.

The Health Research Authority, including HRA Confidentiality Advisory Group, has issued some guidance regarding Approvals you may also find useful.

NHS Digital and NHS England merger – what it means for Confidentiality Advisory Group or Research Ethics Committee approvals

The application process for data remains the same and any applications in progress will continue to be processed as usual. We will continue to publish details of the data we share.

If you are publishing outputs that arise from the data then you should quote the following:

'This work uses data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support.’

We will be contacting a very small number of organisations with data sharing agreements that are not made under UK law to make specific arrangements.

Working in digital roles in the NHS

Our people are our most important asset and recruiting and retaining the best talent remains crucial to our success. What we do matters and we will continue to offer the systems, infrastructure and services that help to keep our NHS running. 

We continue to recruit to digital roles externally when there are no suitable applicants from our internal advertising or we do not have the skills we need internally.  

Any job with us or with the other merging organisations is subject to change in the future, and that includes new employees as well as our existing colleagues. 

Any change process will be carried out fairly and ethically, with the appropriate consultation. It remains vital that we attract and retain highly skilled people to enable us to work effectively and our vacancies will be advertised via NHS Jobs.

Freedom of Information (FOI), Environment Information Regulation and Internal Review Requests

Freedom of Information (FOI) requests will be processed via the NHS England Customer Contact Centre following the merger on 1 February.

Please send Freedom of Information, Environmental Information Regulation and Internal Review requests to [email protected]. Please write 'Freedom of Information' in the subject line. If you have difficulty making a written request, please call the Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 22 33.

Requests which have been sent to the NHS Digital Contact Centre before 1 February will be responded to as was normal practice at that time.

Changes affecting the new NHS England

Last edited: 30 March 2023 3:18 pm