In a major shake-up of health service IT, key leadership roles are to be moved directly to the Department of Health, with NHS Connecting for Health playing a strictly supporting role.

Documents seen by E-Health Insider indicate that the moves will make CfH a “delivery organisation”, with technology policy, technology and strategy questions decided by a team reporting directly to chief information officer for health Christine Connelly.

A new DH Informatics Directorate will be established, consisting of six directors reporting directly to Connelly plus Tim Straughan, chief information officer of the NHS Information Centre.

The six directors will include Martin Bellamy, director of programme and systems delivery, whose key objective will be “to deliver elements of the NHS systems portfolio.”

Intriguingly, the National Programme for IT in the NHS is only described as a short-term objective for the current head of CfH: “In the short term, the main area of focus is the National Programme for IT.”

Also eye-catching is the transfer of the role of technology officer from CfH to the DH, which will now set a common technical architecture for the NHS and ensure that systems conform to it. Paul Jones will transfer directly from CfH to the DH as chief technology officer.

The documents seen by EHI say: “The CTO will own the overall technical architecture to be used by the NHS and Department for Health and will ensure that systems developed conform to that architecture.”

The other director positions, yet to be filled are: a director of policy and planning; a chief business architect; a commercial director, informatics; and a clinical director, informatics. All sit outside CfH.

One senior NHS IT professional told EHI that the restruture indicated a major shift in power and resources: “The implication of this to me is that both the informatics architecture and the financing for that is moving back into the control of the NHS.”

EHI understands that CfH has also announced a restructure designed to enable it to refocus efforts and “build on the culture of delivery throughout the NHS.” In a letter to the agency’s staff, Bellamy said the restructure will “fully align NHS CfH’s systems of internal control with those used in the Department of Health.”

The new structure for CfH will have eight directors. The first three will all have dual lines of reporting as well as reporting to Bellamy.

They are: a finance director, who will also report to the director of NHS finance; a chief technology officer, who will report directly to Connelly; a supplier management director, who will report to the new commercial director, informatics.

The remaining five directors will be respondible for delivery business units. Three will be responsible for groups of projects.

There will also be a service management director. And for the first time, a Lorenzo delivery director will be appointed, though no counterpart Cerner delivery director is yet planned.

The two shake-ups are the first obvious outcome of the appointments of Christine Connelly and Martin Bellamy last September, and come against a background of rumoured lively conversations behind the scenes. The changes will come into effect on 6 April.