Three NHS Information Authority offices in south east England are to be closed and their 142 staff offered relocation and retraining, it was announced today.

The offices are in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, which has 17 staff; South Ruislip, Middlesex, with 30 staff; and Winchester, Hampshire, the largest office affected, which has 95 staff. The Huntingdon office will be the first to go in March 2005, and the others will follow in March 2006.

The closures are part of a sweep of government offices in the south east conducted by Sir Michael Lyons, director of the Institute of Local Government Studies and professor of public policy at Birmingham University. He has been set the task of relocating 20,000 public sector jobs out of the capital and its surrounding area.

The NHSIA, which inherited 23 offices when it was set up in 2000, has already closed many of its premises and announced that, in addition to the Lyons review closures, it would also be shutting sites in Wigan, Lancashire, next year and in Newcastle upon Tyne in 2008.

A spokesperson for the NHSIA said: “Staff are getting full support from our personnel staff who are obviously having one-to-one meetings with individuals.  They will be offered retraining and relocation."

Clients whose services may move because of the closures are also being contacted.

The NHSIA’s fourth office at Tavistock Square in Central London, which is used as a hot-desking facility for staff working in the capital, also came under scrutiny in the review but no decision was taken on its future.

The NHSIA spokesperson explained that all savings resulting from the closures will go directly to the Treasury. A business case would be prepared for the each closure, she said.