Tim Kelsey, national director for patients and information, is set to chair a new informatics services commissioning group that will become an “intelligent customer” for national IT.

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan told EHILive 2012 that the group will sit under the slimmed down Department of Health, the new NHS Commissioning Board, and other bodies with an interest in information and technology.

It will decide what infrastructure, standards and data sets need to be commissioned from the ‘new’ IC, which will work closely with clinical commissioning groups, their commissioning support services, and the emerging data management integration centres.

As such, it looks set to have an important co-ordinating role as existing structures are pulled apart so that the DH can take responsibility for IT and information policy, the NHS CB can ‘purchase’ activity, and the IC and other organisations can deliver it.

Straughan told EHI Live 2012 that the ISCG will drive what data is collected in the NHS and what systems are used to do this.

He said: “This is where the commissioning requirements will be dictated. It is where the SRO [senior responsible officer] will sit and where sponsorship and funding will be delivered.”

He admitted that plans are “fluid” at the moment but said that in addition to Kelsey and the DH, the ISCG will include representatives from NICE, CQC, Public Health England, and other national groups involved in regulating the NHS in England.

In a wide ranging speech that gave some insight into just how powerful the ‘new’ Health and Social Care Information Centre will be when it takes on its new remit in April 2013, Straughan revealed his four strategic principles.

He said these were open data on a shared platform offering “self service” access for users, while protecting the security and privacy of patients.

He said: “I am keen to make sure we have a very clear operating model. I see us almost as a data factory where we will acquire data and put it in a sensible format for users, ideally on a self-service basis.”

The business case for the open platform has already been developed, he said, and he expected to procure the infrastructure for a “pragmatic and tactical solution” before Christmas this year.

Plans are also in train for a “data summit” this December to discuss with clinicians and informaticians what datasets will be needed in the new outcome-led NHS.

Any new datasets will be mandated by the NCB but only after scrutiny by the HSCIC on the cost and benefit of collecting them.

He said: “One of the biggest issues we have at the moment is that the datasets we collect are not clinically relevant enough for the outcomes world.

“We will need a transition away from old datasets to new, defined datasets in a way that will not be unnecessarily costly or cumbersome.”

The coming months will also see the ‘old’ IC take in around 1,300 remaining staff from NHS Connecting for Health and 200 staff remaining from strategic health authority informatics services, creating a new body of over 2,000 staff.

There will also be a focus on information governance, standard setting, development of a national dashboard to provide the NHS Commissioning Board with “a common view of what is happening across the NHS.”

Responding to questions from the audience, he said that the NCB would be responsible in future for commissioning whatever service takes over from N3 when the national contract comes to an end but that the HSCIC would be the delivery organisation.

“This is a big change from the current situation,” he said. “We will be much more accountable than CfH.”