NHS Digital Academy: Digital Leaders and how they are an integral part of the uptake of digital services across the system

By Harpreet Sood and David Farell, 24 July 2018

NHS logo with 'Digital Academy' written underneath it

Four months, two residential sessions down – and now in the midst of the second module, the first 100 candidates are fully immersed as cohort one of the NHS Digital Academy programme.  The NHS launched the Digital Academy earlier this year with the main premise of supporting the development of a new generation of digital leaders who can drive the information and technology transformation of the NHS.  It was set up in response to Professor Robert Wachter’s Making IT Work report, which observed that the NHS was lacking in leaders who could drive forward the digital transformation required by the service. 

As the NHS looks ahead whilst celebrating its 70th birthday, transformation of health and care enabled by digital remains a key priority. Even though it is hard to predict the future, we know that digital will also have an enormous impact on the workforce – in particular how the workforce trains, learns and functions. Digital transformation leadership is critical in achieving this transformation. We need to develop such leaders to help realise the full potential of modern digital technology, and avoid the high-profile failures of the past.

The Digital Academy is one step closer in developing this generation of leaders.  The candidates, as part of a year-long course, are being equipped with key skills and expertise needed to lead digital innovation and how to harness the power of data to support decision-making, planning and delivery of better health and care as well as improved patient outcomes. Whilst conducting a digital transformation project, candidates learn by doing and put the theory into action. We will be looking to train and develop 300 candidates over the next three years.

The Digital Academy is in a unique position to contribute to the growing digital health and health and care transformation. With the help of the current and future cohorts, we plan to develop a programme that will offer frontline staff the skills and knowledge they need to function and deliver care of high value. Whilst the leaders are being trained, we also need to consider how we support and develop aspirant leaders as well as graduates and undergraduates to ensure a robust pipeline of professional development. Work has kicked off on this, and we look forward to sharing the insights and early results.

In the meantime, applications for cohort two open in autumn this year – get in touch and come join us on this journey.