A new unit to oversee digital transformation of the health and care system is to be created, Digital Health News can confirm.

Given the working name NHSX, the organisation is to bring together the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement.

It will have “oversight” of NHS Digital, according to an email from Simon Stevens and Ian Dalton which announces the unit and which has been seen by Digital Health News.

The email also states the unit will be led by a new CEO.

The NHS England and Improvement chief executives state the individual will report to the secretary of state for health and social care, the chief executives of NHS England and NHS Improvement, as well as the permanent secretary of the Department of Health and Social Care.

In a separate email, sent to NHS Digital staff and also seen by Digital Health News, Sarah Wilkinson said she expects that NHSX “will define” NHS Digital’s future “remit as an organisation”.

NHS Digital’s chief executive said in its initial form the body would “assume responsibility for a small number of areas of work where NHSD has previously led”.

She sought to reassure staff that, in the near term, NHS Digital’s “book of work” won’t change.

However she said that in the medium term, “as NHSX considers the appropriate long-term agenda”, there may “of course” be “strategic shifts that manifest in changes to the work that we are commissioned to deliver”.

She positioned the creation of NHSX as “essentially” creating “a new unitary commissioner for the majority of our work as an organisation”.

“We must continue to do everything we can to justify our privileged position as the prime digital, data and technology delivery partner for the NHS and to ensure we can meet what we expect to be an escalation in ambition and demand,” she said.

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed the responsibilities of NHSX will include:

  • Coordination and consistency: Setting national policy and developing best practice for NHS technology, digital and data – including data-sharing and transparency.
  • Setting standards: Developing, agreeing and mandating clear standards for the use of technology in the NHS. Ensuring that NHS systems can talk to each other across the entire health and care system and the NHS can incorporate the latest innovations without breaking the technical plumbing underneath.
  • Driving implementation: Helping to improve clinical care by delivering agile, user-focused projects. Developing digital care pathways and solving administrative challenges across the NHS and empowering developers and data analysts internally and externally to drive forward technological change.
  • Radical innovation: Supporting the use of new, emergent and effective technologies by the NHS, both by working with industry and via its own prototyping and development capability.
  • Common technologies and services: ‘Ensuring that common technologies and services, including the NHS App, are designed so that so that trusts and surgeries don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time. Ensuring that all source code is open by default so that anyone who wants to write code for the NHS can see what we need.
  • Reforming procurement: Helping the NHS buy the right technology through the application of technology standards, streamlined spend controls and new procurement frameworks that support our standards.
  • Cyber policy: Setting national strategy and mandating cyber security standards, so that NHS and social care systems have security designed in from the start.
  • Digital capability: Championing and developing digital training, skills and culture so our staff are digital-ready.
  • Governance: delivering an efficient process for technology spend, domain name management and website security. The effectiveness of governance arrangements will be regularly reviewed.