Health minister announces NHS Digital Academy

Three universities join forces to support development of digital and leadership skills at senior levels of health service

A consortium of universities is to set up an NHS Digital Academy to provide classes in leadership and digital technology for the health service.

It will work as a virtual organisation and be led by Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation, in partnership with Harvard Medical School and the University of Edinburgh. Rachel Dunscombe, director of digital for Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, has been appointed as chief executive and the academy will open for applications in September.

NHS England said it will be the first national structured development programme in change management/leadership and clinical informatics, and is part of a wider technology plan to take advantage of improvements in digital technology and build the necessary skills.

The move is one of those aimed at meeting the recommendations of Professor Bob Wachter’s review of IT in the NHS, which highlighted the need to develop a workforce of clinician-informaticists at trusts, and to strengthen the role of chief clinical information officer.

Supporting programme

It will support the existing work underway via the Building a Digital Ready Workforce (BDRW) National Information Board (NIB) programme, delivered in partnership by NHS Digital, Health Education England, NHS England.

It is currently anticipated that 300 candidates will pass through the academy, each spending up to 12 months studying part-time. It is planning to seek accreditation from the Federation of Informatics Professionals (Fed-IP) and the Faculty of Clinical Informatics (FCI).

Jeremy HuntHealth Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) said: “If the NHS is going to have world class IT systems we need a major programme to spread global best practice – and this links three of the best universities in the world to do just that.

“The academy will ensure the next generation of NHS leaders is well equipped with the most exciting innovations that deliver the best care available to patients everywhere.”

Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial, said: “We want to build a vibrant, self-sustaining community of inspired leaders who will drive NHS digital transformation. We have an unrivalled record of using academic rigour to translate ground breaking research into digital health solutions and we have assembled a world class team to develop the NHS Digital Academy.

“Our operational team and faculty are already in place and we have a clear plan for the launch. We will ensure participants graduate with an international outlook and network.”

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0