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NHS Digital Academy

The NHS Digital Academy is a virtual organisation set up to develop a new generation of excellent digital leaders who can drive the information and technology transformation of the NHS.

We have supported the establishment of the NHS Digital Academy since its inception, following a 2017 Secretary of State commitment. The concept of the NHS Digital Academy emerged from Making IT Work: Harnessing the Power of Health Information Technology to Improve Care in England (the Wachter review) and recommendations outlining the need to develop and invest in the capability and capacity of digital change leaders (including specifically CIOs and CCIOs).

An initial learning programme, a Post Graduate Diploma in Digital Health Leadership, was commissioned for delivery by Imperial College London, who deliver this in partnership with the University of Edinburgh and Harvard Medical School. They provide a year-long, world class, fully accredited programme where participants also have the option to continue onto a Master’s degree, subject to securing additional funding. It is a mix of face-to-face, virtual and applied (project) learning, with mentorship and coaching support. This Programme has been commissioned for three cohorts of 100 each. Cohort 3 commenced the programme in September 2020.

Future vision of the expansion of the NHS Digital Academy

In June 2020 we launched our early thinking with regard for the future vision of the expansion of the NHS Digital Academy in the draft vision document. The current engagement period has now ended and while feedback has been broadly positive, it has allowed us to further strengthen connections with other important areas of work and consider how to improve areas for improvement identified in the Digital Academy Evaluation Report.

The future vision work aimed to tackle four key problem areas: Build a strong, diverse and proactive talent pipeline; Ensure alignment with mainstream NHS leadership development; Co-ordinate opportunities linked to professionalism; Develop a long-term delivery model.

Diversity and increased opportunities for all is at the heart of this future vision, allowing individuals to make more informed choices. We have commissioned a project to develop an inclusive recruitment process for future cohorts of the Digital Academy programmes where capacity is limited, to ensure we are supporting pipeline development for a variety of individuals and roles. We will share this process both to be transparent but to allow others to benefit from the learning.

We are now moving to position where, through expansion over the next period, it will become a recognisable, branded home for all our digital learning (programmes, artefacts), and linked to professional capabilities and drivers such as talent management initiatives to further embed a learning culture. This is a significant uplift from the current position where the Digital Academy is essentially a single learning programme, which is well received but only touches the surface of broad reach and impact. 

We therefore expect to quickly see a whole host of new digitally focused learning programmes that can be easily accessed by a large amount of people. The expansion will mean we are able to curate/refresh, re-use and open-up the learning. It will mean we can contextualise it (including a concept of ‘specialist academies’ for specific parts of the workforce) to fit with role/career pathways and to ensure it is accredited by professional bodies against recognised standards and competencies. 

A more modular and bitesize learning approach will allow more flexible learning both in terms of timescales but also enable individuals to focus their efforts on what matters to them on their learning journey We also hope to be able to better and more easily provide a mechanism to integrate digital learning into existing academic and professional curricula.

This page will be updated regularly as we make progress. If you have any questions or comments about this work please email the Digital Readiness Team - digitalreadiness@hee.nhs.uk.

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