Surrey Health Informatics Service has closed. The organisation ceased operating on 1 November.

A spokesperson for Surrey Primary Care Trust, which hosted it, said the move followed a review last summer. “The decision was born out of a desire to give more local ownership to IT programmes, particularly with the drive to foundation status by some of our acute trusts,” she said.

The HIS supplied services to four acute trusts, a mental health trust and the PCT. Surrey HIS staff have been TUPE-transferred to acute trusts and the mental health trust. Others have been retained by the PCT to work on community systems. A central helpdesk and support for the local Community of Interest Network have been retained.

Some vacancies are still outstanding within the new arrangements, but the spokesperson confirmed that some staff were “at risk.” The appointments process will be concluded by the end of the year.

The 1998 IT strategy, Information for Health, introduced the concept of HISs, which were therefore created during a brief period of enthusiasm for shared services in the NHS.

Surrey HIS was responsible for supporting the local implementation of the National Programme for IT in the NHS, providing Surrey-wide communication and information systems and generating benefits of scale for its stakeholders.

Its closure may be a sign of wider disenchantment with shared services and the programme’s approach, and a desire on the part of NHS organisations to take back control of their own IT.

However, an E-Health Insider source questioned whether they would get a better service. He noted that programme and project management expertise is in short supply, and organisations may be forced to buy-in contractors when they need them, running up additional costs.