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Supply and Capacity December 2019 workshop follow up report: You said, we did…

This page provides a summary of the activities and projects from the outputs generated by the Digital Supply and Capacity workstream’s planning workshop held in the Wellcome Building, Euston Road, London on December 13th, 2019. The workshop was a partnership project between the Digital Readiness Team and our colleagues in Health Data Research UK (HDRUK).

Follow up planning activities post December 2019 workshop

The workshop was attended by over 60 colleagues from across the health, education, professional and industry sectors for digital. With the impact of the pandemic, we were unable to go ahead with a follow up workshop planned as a face to face event in March. Therefore, we delayed these activities and undertook our workforce planning activities during May and June, with scenario planning workshops delivered by our Strategy team in HEE. The Workshop Report Supply and Capacity Summary.pdf provides an analysis of the outputs from the December workshop. In February 2020 we then asked attendees to help us map the priorities in the themes emerging in the report by completing a survey. Below we list the themes and map them to the projects and activities that have been undertaken to deliver the work identified as being important.

Our programme team has listened to our colleagues, partners and stakeholders to develop projects that have enabled us to start to better count, plan and develop the digital and informatics workforce.

Emerging themes and priority assessment mapped to projects and activities

What you said ...

(Priority level 1) Question 2 - There is a need to articulate and communicate career pathways for the health informatics and digital workforce professionals through a marketing campaign and to commission education and training programmes that will raise awareness and attract school leavers and graduates into organisations.

What are we doing? (project status key – in delivery, in procurement, in development)

Career Pathways: picking up from recommendations from research on Career Pathways, we commissioned a project to explore and map out the future of the NHS Digital Academy and to map in new opportunities for articulating and marketing career pathways. By 2021/22 (subject to funding availability), we will have re-procured and commissioned delivery of the NHS Digital Academy Digital Health Leadership learning programme including changes to ensure learning is widely available/re-usable with a fourth cohort to commence in 2021. (Project status – in delivery – Establishing the Digital Academy, Career Pathways).

Commissioning of education and training programmes: From April 1st expanding NHS Graduate DDaT model programme into North West, South West, North East and South East and continuing recruitment in London and YH (circa 124 grads by March 2022). (Project status – in delivery)

Developing a School and College leaver proposal to create a ‘grow your own’ model in digital and tech roles to compliment grad scheme for late 2020/ early 2021. (Project status – in procurement).

What you said ...

(Priority level 2) Question 4 - (There is a need to) Establish workforce planning models and mechanisms to understand demand for skills and the supply routes that can be applied flexibly - nationally, regionally or locally - to better inform investment planning for scarce roles and emerging occupational areas in digital health such as Product Owners and the skill levels and roles required in the data domain (e.g. data scientists, data engineers and data analysts).

What are we doing? (project status key – in delivery, in procurement, in development)

Series of workforce planning projects:  Phase 1 Report Published January 2020.

Understanding the Informatics workforce on the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) 2014 – 2019.

Phase 2 commenced February 2020 with HEE WP&I colleagues to produce a comprehensive workforce forecast, plan and strategy up 2030. A series of stakeholder scenario planning workshops and partnership with NWISDN to undertake a national data collection exercise.

We launched the Demand Forecasting exercise via a webinar in July on the Digital Health platform. This was the development and application of a workforce planning toolkit to help CIOs plan a future workforce in two plausible scenarios to allow our HEE workforce planning experts to model the future workforce up to 2030. By Q4 2020/21, a comprehensive plan for the digital workforce will be published, detailing the forecast for demand to 2030, to inform strategic investment. (Project status – in delivery).

See our programme workforce planning webpage for further information.

GAP: uncertainties in Social Care, Primary Care and PHE still exist. Have now established workstream for Social Care, but likely won’t undertake workforce planning.

What you said ...

(Priority level 3) Question 1 - There is a need to define the health informatics and digital workforce terminology and create appropriate job architecture to describe skill levels, through either agreeing and establishing a modernised career framework or adopting and adapting a pre-existing framework.

What are we doing? (project status key – in delivery, in procurement, in development)

Improving system-wide data: The Digital Readiness team have progressed discussion with NHS Digital and NHS BSA to look at improving data values to describe the workforce on platforms such as ESR and NHS Jobs.

Working with the Government Digital Service (GDS) Digital Data and Technology (DDaT) Capability Framework team, and a project has been commissioned to adopt, adapt and align the framework into health and social care. By March 2021, the wider implementation of the digital job role framework will be underway (ownership, handover to BaU activities for sustainability), for the 1st cohort of roles. (Project – in delivery).

Two Unconferences were delivered in January and February 2020 to understand how the GDS DDaT Capability Framework can be best used and supported by organisations in health and care.

The unconferences used a ‘liberating structures’ approach, so only the conference title was pre-set by the organisers – ‘How can we attract and Retain the Best Digital Talent’. At the start of the conference, the delegates put forward themes they wanted to discuss, these were then ranked by all delegates, and the most popular themes became the workshop sessions. The aim of each workshop was to discuss the theme but also suggest practical actions. A summary of the themes and suggested actions is available in the ‘Unconference Playback’.

PDF icon DDaT Unconference Playback.pdf


What you said ...

(Priority level 3) Question 7 - A need to review the existing Agenda for Change (AfC) pay band system’s appropriateness for applying to the non-clinical data, digital, technology and knowledge workforce and benchmark to the wider system to better understand risks and opportunities in recruitment and retention.

What are we doing? (project status key – in delivery, in procurement, in development)

Labour Market data analysis: Project commissioned to provide Labour market data analysis on the digital workforce roles advertised on NHS Jobs and NHS Digital. This will help discover top ten digital skills and roles in demand, median salary rates by region, demand by region, growing top ten roles and skills, cost of living index, benchmarked to Industry. (Project – complete). September 2020.

You can read the report on the Tech Nation website.

Review of analysis will help develop the proposal for setting up industry collaboration models and mechanisms, including a Share, Rent Borrow model, and drive discussions with colleagues in NHS digital to look at appropriate way forward for driving any pay review.  This will be picked up in Stage 3 of workforce planning in 2021 and likely will be led by NHSX. (Project – in development).

What you said ...

(Priority level 5) Question 8 - Map the themes that emerged from this workshop to the recommendations in the wider policy documents, such as the Topol Review and the NHS People Plan to develop a gap analysis.

What are we doing? (project status key – in delivery, in procurement, in development)

This is a piece of work that has been undertaken by David Farrell, Digital Readiness Programme Manager, and Sue Lacey-Bryant in HEE in late 2019. (Project status – complete).

PDF icon Topol One Year On.pdf

PDF icon Topol Digital Fellowships Synopsis 1 year anniversary.pdf


What you said ...

(Priority level 6) Question 5 - The *Professionalism agenda needs to consider the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) needs of the workforce and map accredited supply routes e.g. developing communities of practice, developing informatics skills development networks (*ongoing separate workstream to Digital Supply and Capacity).

What are we doing? (project status key – in delivery, in procurement, in development)

A project has commenced  to support the development of regional Informatics Skills Development Networks (ISDNs) in all regions across the country. Regional Skills Networks will provide both opportunities for collaboration and networking, learning and development and accreditation / benchmarking.

Following an additional piece of user research carried out through Sept – Nov 2020 we will develop and consult on an approach to enable us to establish a fully supported and sustainable infrastructure for digital networks (collaborative communities), existing and new. (Project status – live).

Currently scoping a project for mentorship and opportunities to network with peers and leaders across sectors to map mentorship, coaching and sponsorship activities into costed programmes such as the NHS Grad DDaT Grads in scheme, Topol Fellows and others. (Project status – live).

What you said ...

(Priority level 7) Question 6 - Develop and establish appropriate performance metrics to measure the impact and improvement for workforce planning, supply and capacity e.g. numbers of digital apprentices invested in Trusts, numbers of commissioned informatics programmes, dashboard tools for assessing equality and diversity of the workforce in digital and informatics.

What are we doing? (project status key – in delivery, in procurement, in development)

No project commissioned for the work, but it has been picked up and reviewed: current metrics will be numbers on programmes who complete, e.g. grads into health, Topol Fellowships, digital apprentice occupational maps. WP&I colleagues have developed a tableau tool for monitoring EDI in NHS Trusts (using ESR data warehouse) and plan to test this late summer 2020. Provided literature sources and reviews to Shuri network for developing inclusive and diverse JDs and employer toolkit.

Our programmes are subject to ongoing independent evaluation and review. Review and improvement opportunities are built in at appropriate stages to inform commissioning decisions. Some of the data is based on narrative and evaluations are undertaken via mixed methods reviews. e.g. evaluation on the Grads into Health pilot established further requirements for building gender diversity and addressing developing and supporting service managers to support their learners on programme.

What you said ...

(Priority level 8) Question 3 - (There is a need to) Identifying and assigning the necessary system leadership to a national and visible chief professional officer who will own the health informatics professional improvement agenda and will establish the necessary governance and infrastructure to influence the necessary improvements to deliver change at pace and scale.

What are we doing? (project status key – in delivery, in procurement, in development)

Sonia Patel has been established as the national Chief Information Officer (CIO) at NHSX. She is supported by several other people in a team to support professionalism of digital roles in health and care and is our programme lead commissioner.

In addition, the health data analyst community has been established in September 2020, that has representatives from the lead professionals across the ALBs and health and care system, to support the professionalism of this key workforce.


2020 has been unprecedented for us all with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, both personally and professionally. The NHS has never been under so much pressure, yet the pandemic provided rocket fuel for aspects of digital transformation, largely remote working, remote and teleconsultations and online learning. This digital transformation is underpinned by the knowledge, skills and capabilities of the people who lead and deliver digital services and health informatics. 

It is a year since we all met face to face in a room with passion, enthusiasm, and a concerted joint effort to collaborate and partner on workforce development. We can no longer undertake these networking activities and planning workshops face to face for the foreseeable future but we wanted to take the opportunity as we approach the anniversary of the workshop to thank participants for their insight and input and to let everyone know that during this year we have been working to put these ideas into action. There was an industrious energy in the room on the day and from the collaborative efforts of the community of dedicated people who attended and have continued to engage with the programme in 2020, we were able to scope, prioritise and develop projects to help us build the future professional digital workforce during 2020/21. The workforce planning activities we have undertaken this year, in demand forecasting, undertaking a labour market analysis and continuing to engage with the connected communities of our stakeholders will allow us to continue this work with a better understanding of the types of roles, skills and supporting structures required to build the future health informatics and digital workforce.