The plan to merge NHS Digital and NHS England has been accelerated with the transfer now expected in early January 2023, the DHSC has confirmed.
The proposed transfer of NHS Digital’s functions into NHSE was due to happen at the end of March 2023 but has been brought forward three months to support the controversial patient access plan.
The move will create a single statutory body in charge of data and digital technology for the NHS, which the DHSC said will mean patients benefit from a streamlined data sharing processes and ‘rigorous’ safeguards.
According to the DHSC, NHSE will be able to provide patients with information about waiting times – a key part of its patient plan.
In line with its commitments made to Parliament, NHSE will provide the same protections for people’s data as NHS Digital currently does, with the DHSC set to work with the Information Commissioner and the National Data Guardian to maintain this.
However, the transfer is still subject to parliamentary approval and agreement with the devolved administration.
The merge was first announced last year, with NHSX and Health Education England both set to join into NHSE.
The DHSC had said that combining NHS Digital and NHSX would improve cooperation between the ‘key digital bodies’ of the NHS.