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Universities to launch new NHS Digital Academy

Written by Anthony Strzalek

Three of the world’s top universities have joined forces to 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.

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

The Academy is part of the NHS’ wider technology plan to simplify access to care online or otherwise, ensure its hospitals are taking advantage of improvements in digital technology and increasing the skills of its staff so it can more efficiently adopt new technology and systems to improve patient care.

A virtual organisation, the academy will provide expertise for clinicians and health managers who are delivering a programme of 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.

It is currently anticipated that 300 candidates will pass through the NHS Digital Academy, each spending up to 12 months studying part-time.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt 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.”

Matthew Swindells, national director of operations and information at NHS England, added: “We want the NHS to be a world leader in the use of digital technology helping to drive improvements in patient care and to make our organisations more efficient. This pioneering academy will provide healthcare leaders with the right skills to tackle some of the most challenging problems facing the NHS.”