New NHS ‘Digital Academy’ to open its virtual doors next month

Move part of the NHS’ wider technology plan to simplify access to care online, ensure hospitals are taking advantage of improvements in digital technology and increasing the digital skills of the NHS workforce

Posted 3 August 2017 at 9:49am by

A new NHS Digital Academy, led by Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation working with Harvard Medical School and The University of Edinburgh, will open for applications in September.

The idea: provide virtual masterclasses in leadership and digital as part of a comprehensive programme to provide NHS staff with the right skills to drive digital innovation, says NHS England.

The resource is also claimed to be a direct result of last year’s Wachter Review of IT in the NHS, which highlighted the need to develop a workforce of trained ‘clinician-informaticists’ at Trusts, give them appropriate resources and authority, and strengthen and grow the NHS CCIO field, others trained in clinical care and informatics and health IT professionals more generally.

The Wachter report pointed out a “a lack of professionals – namely CCIOs and CIOs – that can drive forward the transformation agenda enabled by informatics and technology”.

The Academy – set up to be a virtual organisation – is part of a wider technology plan by the NHS to simplify access to care online or otherwise, ensure NHS hospitals are taking advantage of improvements in digital technology and increasing the skills of staff “so we can seamlessly adopt new technology and systems to improve patient care”, it promises.

The new entity will also 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, adds the group.

NHS England is also claiming the Academy will also be the national UK structured development programme in change management/leadership and clinical informatics.

The Academy will do this by providing expertise for clinicians and health managers who want to deliver ambitious programme sof digital innovation in the NHS, including how to use new technology to improve patient care and experience and to deliver efficiencies.

Rachel Dunscombe, Director of Digital for Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, a partner in the initiative, has been appointed the Academy’s Chief Executive, and it is currently anticipated around 300 candidates will pass through the NHS Digital Academy, each spending up to 12 months studying part-time.

“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,” claimed Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

“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.”

“Investing in technology is important, but equally important is investing in the people tasked with making it work for clinicians and for patients,” added Dr Harpreet Sood, Associate Chief Clinical Information Officer at NHS England and Lead on NHS Digital Academy.

“This is why we are investing in developing a globally recognised Digital Academy because we want the NHS modernisation to be led by world class leaders.”

The NHS Digital Academy will be seeking accreditation from the Federation of Informatics Professionals (Fed-IP) and the Faculty of Clinical Informatics (FCI).