College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Digital Academy set to transform NHS care

Digital masterclasses are to be offered to healthcare professionals to drive innovation in the NHS and improve patient care.

NHS staff on the ward

Edinburgh is joining forces with Imperial College London and Harvard Medical School to launch a NHS Digital Academy.

The virtual organisation aims to train 300 IT leaders for the health service over the next three years.

It will be formally launched on 12 September at the NHS Expo in Manchester by Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health.

New technologies

It will equip healthcare professionals with the skills to use new technology to improve the patient experience, and deliver service efficiencies.

Experts are developing 12-month, part-time training programmes for NHS staff. These will cover topics including leadership and transformational change, public attitudes to the sharing of data and responding to user needs.

Global expertise

Courses will mainly be delivered online but will also include a residential component and a workplace project.

Participants will have access to the world’s foremost experts to ensure they graduate with an international outlook and a network of global leaders in the field.

Professor Aziz Sheikh, Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute of Population Health has been appointed Co-Director of the NHS Digital Academy.

Developments in digital capabilities and data science are transforming many facets of our lives. It is crucial that these developments are now also harnessed to improve health care processes and patient experiences.

Professor Aziz Sheikh

NHS Digital Academy

Colleagues viewing information on an Ipad

Plans to establish an NHS Digital Academy were announced by Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, during a speech in 2016. Edinburgh, Imperial College London and Harvard Medical School were selected to lead its development following a competitive tender process.

NHS Digital Academy Co-Director Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham said a world-class team has been assembled. The partner institutions have an unrivalled record of using academic rigour to translate ground-breaking research into digital health solutions.


Matthew Swindells, National Director of Operations and Information at NHS England, said a digitally transformed NHS demands a workforce that has the skills, knowledge and insights to improve and innovate.

The NHS Digital Academy will train and support the next generation of clinical and IT leaders to ensure that they have the skills, expertise and access to the foremost experts in the world to safely and securely use IT to support continuous improvements in the ways in which the NHS works and the care it delivers.

Professor Aziz Sheikh

The Academy will support work already underway via the Building a Digital Ready Workforce (BDRW) National Information Board (NIB) programme led by NHS Digital. It will be the first national structured development programme in change management, leadership and clinical informatics.

Related links

Usher Institute

Edinburgh Medical School