Hundreds of staff at NHS Digital will be forced to re-train or face the axe as the organisation moves to upskill its workforce via a major restructure.

A round of redundancies will be made at NHS Digital as part of a restructuring process that aims to bring more cyber-literate staff into the fold.

The redesign has been labelled ‘Org2’ and aims to address a shortage of expertise in new and emerging technologies, such as cyber security, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The organisation also faces budget pressures and hopes to reduce its headcount while creating a more flexible workforce.

Sean Walsh, director Org2, regions and professions said: “This restructure is about skilling up our workforce and rethinking our structure. This will ensure that we have the deep skills and technical expertise to deliver the best service for our customers and also that our structure allows us to flex according to the needs of the health and care sector.

“We will partly do this through training and development for our staff, but we also know that we need to bring in new technical skills and to invest in new talent in terms of graduates and early career staff.”

According to reports, key partners of NHS Digital have indicated they are not confident in the organisation’s ability to deliver on new, data-driven initiatives.

A highly critical review of NHS Digital the organisation in 2017 found that it relied on outdated technology and suffered skills shortages in multiple areas, impacting its delivery performance.

It also identified shortcomings in the national body’s data services, which were found to be performing below the expectations of customers.

Digital Health News understands NHS Digital held a meeting in July to inform staff about the changes.

However, when approached at the time, the organisation denied that redundancies had been discussed.

Over 600 members of staff are said to have been told on Monday that they would need to re-apply for their jobs.

Exit dates for the first round of cuts are expected to have been decided by January 2019, according to a document seen by Computer Weekly.

Staff who cannot retrain to learn new skills or demonstrate value to the organisation are likely to face redundancy.

It is not yet clear how many staff will be let go as a result of the restructure, which will be delivered in three waves over the next two years.

NHS Digital is expected to share a proposal with staff later this month that will set out timescales and outline redundancy options for staff.

“We have committed to staff that we will manage the process transparently and fairly and we are consulting with them throughout,” said Walsh.