The chief executive of NHS England has revealed that the organisation is expected to be between 30-40% “smaller than the current combined size of NHS England, Health Education England and NHS Digital” by the end of 2023/24.

In a letter to staff, Amanda Pritchard states the official formation of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) on July 1, means that “NHS England must now change the way we work” adding “this means we need to reduce the size of NHS England and be rigorous about what we do”.

“This will mean significant change for NHS England,” Pritchard’s letter adds.

“We expect that, by the end of 2023/24, the new single organisation will be at least 30%, and up to 40% smaller than the current combined size of NHS England, Health Education England and NHS Digital.”

In 2021, the Wade-Gery review recommended that NHS Digital, NHSX and Health Education England should be merged with NHS England and Improvement. Former health secretary, Matt Hancock, ordered the major review into digital transformation in the NHS in July 2021. 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.

While NHSX has already been disbanded, NHS Digital’s interim CEO and interim CIO at NHS England and Improvement, Simon Bolton has hinted that NHS Digital will go through a similar process next year and officially merge with NHS England.

Interim chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said: “We see the benefits of bringing national leadership for workforce and digital within NHS England’s remit to ensure integrated policy making. It is also good that NHS England under Amanda Pritchard is seeking to adapt to support system working, harnessing the skills and expertise of staff effectively and efficiently.

“This is a difficult process that will inevitably cause worry and uncertainty for colleagues and we welcome the emphasis on compassionate leadership.

“It will be important to ensure this focus on the impact of internal mergers does not eclipse the wider relationships and support that will be needed to ensure the success of system working, and the crucial role of trusts within that.”