NHS Digital’s interim CEO has said he believes the centre of the NHS can be run more efficiently by reducing the headcount and moving resources.

Kicking off Digital Health Summer Schools 2022 at the University of York, Simon Bolton told the audience how “we [NHS executives] think we can run the centre of the NHS more efficiently by reducing the headcount”.

This comes after NHS England’s CEO, Amanda Pritchard, revealed that the organisation is 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″.

Bolton stressed although only around 18,000 out of 1.3million are in the centre at NHS England, the plans to become smaller are not driven by reduction in cost but by efficiency and the ability to move resource from the centre to Integrated Care Systems (ICSs).

The interim CEO also said that most staff will remain in the NHS but may simply move from one building to another.

In his keynote speech, Bolton, who is also interim CIO at NHS England and Improvement, also spoke about managing convergence, in particular, moving to a smaller number of providers.

“I have never worked in an industry with such a wide range of providers,” he told the Summer Schools audience.

Bolton also revealed that a consultation will be taking place over the summer on managing convergence.

How ICSs will reduce health inequalities

Elsewhere, another session saw a panel come together to talk about how ICSs will reduce health inequalities through digital transformation.

The panel included Dr Tim Ferris, director of transformation at NHS England and NHS Improvement, who stressed that the key is to have the most efficient health and social care supported by digital systems and that people always think negatively about potential impacts.

He said: “People always think what is the worst that can happen? We should trust each other and simplify the systems used to reduce the burden on clinicians.”