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NHS Digital to make 500 staff redundant in significant restructure

NHS Digital is laying off 500 of its 2,500 staff as part of a major restructure aimed at slimming down the organisation and changing its staffs’ skillset.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, confirmed in parliament last week that all of the organisation’s staff would have to reapply for new jobs in light of the move.

The first wave of the restructure is in the process of being delivered and the cycle is due to conclude by 2020/21. It comes just weeks after the health secretary unveiled plans to overhaul NHS IT and make it the most advanced health service in the world.

In proposals published last month, Hancock outlined plans to introduce new minimum technical standards to ensure NHS systems are interoperable and can be continuously upgraded.

Systems which do not meet the standards will be phased out, while government will “look to end” contracts with health and care IT providers which fail to understand the NHS’s new architectural principles, the Department for Health and Social Care said in a statement.

But there is currently no funding allocated to making the latest plans a reality. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care told NS Tech last month: “Digital transformation and technology services in the health and care system are currently funded through a combination of revenue and capital funding from central and NHS budgets.”

The Health Service Journal reported in October that a full IT overhaul could cost the NHS as much as £13bn.

“This restructure is about skilling up our workforce and rethinking our structure,” said NHS Digital’s Sean Walsh. “This will ensure that we have the deep skills and technical expertise to deliver the best service for our customers and that our structure allows us to flex according to the needs of the health and care sector.”