Sarah Wilkinson to join NHS Digital as CEO

Home Office digital lead on course to move to healthcare organisation later in the year

NHS Digital has appointed Sarah Wilkinson as its new chief executive.

It said she will join the organisation – the arm’s length Department of Health body that provides IT and data to the NHS – from the Home Office, where she is currently chief digital, data and technology officer, later in the year at a date yet to be announced.

Sarah WilkinsonWilkinson (pictured) said: "Digital and technical capabilities and the fast-evolving market in platforms, software, devices and analytics, are transforming the ability of the medical profession to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases. To be asked to work at the forefront of delivering these capabilities is hugely exciting. 

"A major draw of the role is the opportunity to work with and alongside an incredibly talented team of medical practitioners, technologists and other specialists. It is a huge privilege to be asked to be part of this community."

NHS Digital chair Noel Gordon said: "Sarah brings vast experience of implementing complex technology projects, alongside a deep insight into bringing about positive change to a broad range of communities through digital delivery.

"She is joining a talented, ambitious and committed team and I look forward to seeing NHS Digital continue to work with the health and care sector to deliver technology and digital services of maximum value to patients and the public."

Financial IT background

Following 20 years in financial IT, Wilkinson joined the Home Office at the start of 2015 to lead its IT transformation, and in July of last year took on the leadership of the department’s Digital Data and Technology Unit as it was formed from Home Office Digital and Home Office Technology.

She will join NHS Digital in a period in which it is focusing effort on opening up NHS data streams, such as the GP hub announced last week, encouraging the development of apps to support healthcare and pushing for wider participation in the use of digital tech. Some of the pressure on the organisation was recently released when the Government quietly stood back from its commitment to make the NHS paperless by 2018.

Rob Shaw will continue as interim chief executive officer until Wilkinson moves into the role.

Image from NHS Digital