• NHS Digital spends £11m on redundancies
  • Twenty-four staff given exit packages worth more than £100k
  • Organisation has shed 300 staff, with more job losses expected

The government agency charged with delivering NHS digital transformation spent £11m last year shedding more than 400 staff.

NHS Digital’s annual accounts, published last week, confirmed the agency spent £11.1m on staff redundancies in 2018-19, up from just £659,000 the year before.

Among the exit packages were two unnamed managers who each received between £150,000 and £200,000. A further 22 staff were paid out between £100,000 and £150,000.

Overall, 428 people left NHS Digital last year, cutting the headcount by 304 staff when new arrivals were counted. This is a reduction of roughly 10 per cent of its workforce.

The report stated: “2018-19 saw 124 external recruits join and 428 employees leave, resulting in a net decrease of 304 employees. Some of the leavers were managed exits, which were part of the restructuring of the organisation that began in 2018.”

NHS Digital is in the middle of a massive restructure, first reported by HSJ in August last year, through to April 2021. This will shrink its headcount but also replace existing staff with more technically skilled recruits.

In August last year, NHS Digital told HSJ it had not determined how many staff would lose their jobs. But an email to staff that same month said the organisation’s headcount would drop from 3,000 to 2,100.

On Monday, NHS Digital told HSJ the final headcount was now expected to be about 2,500, with a net reduction of about 500 staff.

A spokeswoman said: “The restructure that we are currently undergoing involves three phases, of which the first is complete. This first phase included the senior roles within the business and the closure of a number of regional offices, the latter of which presented a limited opportunity for suitable alternative employment.”

NHS Digital runs most of the NHS’ central IT systems and has a growing brief to deliver the government’s strategy for NHS digital transformation.

The restructure, known as Org2, was prompted by a 2017 review that criticised the organisation’s reliance on “out of date technology” and a culture that did not foster innovation.

Despite the reduction in staff, the accounts show NHS Digital’s expenditure in 2018-19 rose to £438.3m in 2018-19, up from £377.5m the year before.

This story was updated on 15 July to include comments from NHS Digital.