Both NHS Digital and NHSX are to be incorporated into NHS England and Improvement, it was revealed today.

The news came in a letter to staff from NHS England and Improvement’s chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, in which she said ‘NHS Digital and NHSX will be incorporated into our organisation’.

The letter, which has been seen by Digital Health News, states that as part of NHS England and Improvement, ‘NHS Digital will become the CIO directorate and NHSX will evolve into the strategy function in the Transformation directorate’.

“As a single organisation, we can further accelerate the digital transformation of the NHS and redouble our efforts to address health inequalities,” the letter continues.

Pritchard’s letter says the announcement ‘follows the long-awaited review by Laura Wade-Gery’, who is the non-executive director of NHS England and NHS Improvement and chair of NHS Digital. The review recommended ‘a more joined up approach to digital transformation in the NHS national bodies’.

Pritchard praised NHSX and NHS Digital for their critical role throughout the pandemic delivering the NHS Covid Pass, Covid vaccine systems, virtual wards and many other innovations.

Going forward she said: “Our Transformation Directorate will continue to lead the digital transformation agenda for the NHS and social care at national and ICS level, alongside colleagues from Improvement and Innovation, Research and Life Sciences.”

In other major changes, Pritchard also announced that Health Education England is to merge with NHS England and Improvement.

More information about the changes were revealed in an email from NHSX’s CEO, Matthew Gould, who revealed that NHS Digital’s interim CEO, Simon Bolton, will ‘become the CIO of NHS England’ and will report to Tim Ferris (NHS England and Improvement’s director of transformation).

“Not all of us will be going into the strategy function. It will make sense for some teams to be in other parts of the Transformation Directorate, like the transformation teams or the CIO’s function,” Gould added.

There was also confirmation that the NHSX and NHS Digital brands ‘will both be retired, to emphasise the single, united approach to digital transformation that the NHS will now take, and the need for organisational clarity and simplicity in how it drives this agenda forward’.

Secretary of state for health and social care, Sajid Javid, said:  “To ensure our record NHS investment makes a lasting impact, I am bringing workforce planning and digital transformation into the heart of the NHS.

“These reforms will support our recovery from Covid-19 and help us tackle waiting lists to give patients excellent care in years to come.

“I would like to pay tribute to all our colleagues at Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHSX for the enormous progress they have made, which we will continue to drive forward with their help.”

Former health secretary, Matt Hancock, ordered the major review into digital transformation in the NHS in July. Hancock called for a review into how NHSX, NHS Digital and NHS England and Improvement work together to drive digital transformation in the health service.

It was headed by Laura Wade-Gery to determine the critical capabilities and digital operating model needed across the three national bodies to drive the digital system transformation envisaged in the NHS Long Term Plan.