We welcome your application to the fifth cohort of Digital Health Leadership Programme

Published on 04 March 2022, by Rachel Dunscombe

Learning and development, NHS Digital Academy, Digital health leadership

It is a huge privilege to welcome a new round of applicants to the NHS Digital Academy’s Digital Health Leadership Programme.

We (Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation) are delighted to be selected as a partner to deliver this programme for the fifth year running, together with the Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh and Health Data Research UK (HDR UK). Designed to nurture and empower future digital leaders in health and care, this exciting and engaging programme will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to drive digital transformation within the NHS. As we emerge from the global pandemic, a new generation of highly skilled digital leaders will play a vital role in ensuring that the ongoing digital shift can bring about sustainable improvements in healthcare delivery, benefitting the lives of patients and professionals alike.

It has been inspiring to see the achievements and onward journeys of our alumni and we hope this programme will help you with your own career journey too, contributing to the development and implementation of innovative digital solutions for the healthcare challenges of today and the future.

What we have achieved so far

Over the four years of delivering this innovative programme, we have demonstrated how digital leadership skills can harness the potential technology to transform the NHS and benefit patient care. We have engaged with and learned from internationally renowned leaders in digital health, bringing informed external perspectives into the way that we deliver digital health initiatives across the UK.

Our new partnership with HDR UK brings a wealth of experience and expertise in managing data across the UK healthcare ecosystem, enabling participants to explore how information can be processed and synthesised to solve broader challenges.  Our partnership brings together the expertise of the academic team at Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation and Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh to offer five taught modules, which are delivered alongside a programme of leadership development. This learning is augmented with regular webinars, in-person and virtual leadership forums to support health and informatics professionals as they develop their identities as leaders in this domain.

The Digital Health Leadership Programme has trained more than 300 digital health leaders for the NHS from 2018 to 2021, with a further 100 participants currently progressing through the programme as our fourth cohort. We’re immensely proud of our change-making alumni who have gone on to shape policy and practice, for example, developing national Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy guidance, which enables staff to safely and securely use their own digital devices for work. To find out more about what our community has achieved, see a selection of presentations from prior cohorts’ innovation and impact.

What to expect from Cohort 5

A valuable part of the programme is the peer support groups formed at the start of each cohort. We bring together participants from a diverse range of roles and background, enabling you to capitalise on the collective skills and expertise offered from different disciplines of your peers. Whether you are a health professional or an established digital champion, there are many opportunities for you to learn from people within the programme. In addition, we provide a range of academic support, including resources and mentoring, to ensure you are equipped with the knowledge and skills to complete your studies with this year-long programme.

Join the programme

We are now accepting applications for the fifth cohort, which will start in September 2022. You will find the application information on the NHS Digital Academy website. We are looking forward to welcoming you as a new member of our growing community.

RD Picture of Rachel Dunscombe

Prof Rachel Dunscombe

Co-Director of the Digital Health Leadership Programme and strategic advisor to the NCA Salford NHS Group

Imperial College, London


Rachel Dunscombe is a Co-Director of the Digital Health Leadership Programme and strategic advisor to the NCA Salford NHS Group. She has provided advisory services to the Secretary of State for Health in the UK, is the health care representative on the UK government AI council and is associate digital editor for the BMJ. Through her academic work Rachel has received a visiting professorship at Imperial College, London. Rachel is a non-executive director of the Digital Health Society and formerly the Director of Digital for Salford NCA Group which was the NHS’s most digitally mature organisation. She has led services to enable health delivery for hospitals, community services, social care, regions and at a national level.

View more about Prof Rachel Dunscombe

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