Imperial College London

NHS Digital Academy recruits the next cohort of digital health leaders

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A new consortium has been selected by Health Education England to deliver the NHS Digital Academy’s Digital Health Leadership programme.

Imperial College London, University of Edinburgh, and Health Data Research UK will lead the programme from its incoming cohort onwards, the fourth year the Academy has been running.

Established in 2018, the Academy trains and empowers health and care leaders to drive digital transformation in the NHS

"The NHS Digital Academy will continue to play an integral role in the digital transformation of our health and social care service." Prof Ara Darzi Institute of Global Health Innovation

The award of the contract ensures continuity and strengthening of partnerships at the leading edge of digital health education, research, and innovation. The collaboration is built with a view to meet emerging needs that come with rapid developments in the health sector, and to gradually expand access and reach of digital learning resources across the health and care workforce. Read about HEE’s Future Vision for the NHS Digital Academy here.

Looking forward, the NHS Digital Academy maintains the flagship role of its Digital Health Leadership programme, and will expand its portfolio over time. The Digital Health Leadership programme meanwhile will continuously strengthen and enrich its offering by learning from the breadth of the NHS and social care, digital health research, professional bodies, and its alumni. In the immediate term, a strategic inclusive recruitment effort is set to widen access and encourage applications from a wide array of professions.

Harnessing the benefits of digital

Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation will continue its successful partnership with the University of Edinburgh, and will be joined by Health Data Research UK. The partnership will build on the accomplishments of training more than 300 digital health leaders to date, enabling them to implement innovation and applied learning to better their practice, while extending the uses and harnessing the benefits of digital capabilities.

Alumni from the programme went on to apply their learnings in their successful careers and shape policy and practice with national impact, setting the course for the future of digital health and care. Our alumni have championed crucial innovation to meet the challenges that Covid-19 posed over the past year: a selection of presentations from across three cohorts’ innovation and impact is available here.

Professor the Lord Ara Darzi, Co-Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London said: “The pandemic has rapidly ushered in a new era of digital healthcare that demands excellent leaders to ensure that the changes bring sustainable improvements to healthcare delivery. The NHS Digital Academy will continue to play an integral role in this digital transformation of our health and social care service, and we are honoured to be working with our partners to develop and deliver this world-leading programme for the fourth year running.”

"We must harness the great potential of digital technologies to improve care processes and continually improve outcomes for our patients across the NHS." Prof Aziz Sheikh University of Edinburgh

Professor Aziz Sheikh OBE, Director of the Usher Institute and Dean of Data at The University of Edinburgh said: “We are delighted to again be working with Imperial College London, and new partner Health Data Research UK, to deliver the next cohort of NHS Digital Academy training programme.

"Ensuring those within the NHS working in digital leadership roles are skilled up with the very latest understanding in the field drives forward innovation within our health and care systems. We must harness the great potential of digital technologies to improve care processes and continually improve outcomes for our patients across the NHS.”

Rachel Dunscombe, CEO said: “The teams and Imperial and Edinburgh are delighted to be joined by HDR UK in delivering the programme. We very much look forward to commencing Cohort 4 in 2021 to continue the development of our digital health leaders. We will also focus on further enhancement of the alumni network for former participants and also the opening and sharing of content with other NHS-related programmes. I am delighted to continue working with the talented and passionate teams who deliver the NHS Digital Academy.”

Andrew Morris, Director of Health Data Research UK said: “Our ambition to train healthcare professionals and scientists in up-to-date health data science aligns with those of the NHS Digital Academy. This partnership is a significant step forward in being able to develop training at scale across the healthcare workforce. Working with the university partners and across our extensive cross-sector and international networks we will be able to reach a wider and more diverse audience with our digital learning resources and tools.”

Patrick Mitchell, Director of Innovation, Transformation and Digital at Health Education England, said: “This programme is a fantastic opportunity to really develop and embed the digital leaders of the future into our NHS workforce. The scale and speed of implementing digital innovations over the last year has seen staff using sophisticated approaches and adapting to new ways of working.

“New digital ways of working have allowed staff to continue the delivery of safe, effective and timely care during the pandemic right across the acute, specialist, mental health, ambulance and community sectors. This programme will help ensure the NHS has the strong digital leaders to make further changes happen to benefit patients and patient care.”

Harpreet Sood, Non-Executive Director at Health Education England said: “I am excited that the NHS Digital Academy will continue to train health and care digital leaders for a fourth year particularly as we have refreshed the selection process to ensure there is even more diversity and inclusion with additional support being provided to underrepresented groups.”

Join the Academy

Recruitment for the next cohort of the Digital Health Leadership programme is underway. We are expecting applications from across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the British Isles by 21 June 2021, for the intake starting in September 2021. You will find the up-to-date application information, along with live and recorded webinars, resources, and contacts on the NHS Digital Academy website.


Justine Alford

Justine Alford
Institute of Global Health Innovation

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 1484

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Amy Matrai

Amy Matrai
Department of Surgery & Cancer


Health-policy, Healthcare
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