Application process

Applicants that meet the eligibility criteria will have their applications assessed and scored via a shortlisting process. Once the shortlisting process (and any moderation required) has been completed, applicants will be notified whether they have been successful or not.

Important: Deadline

The application window for Cohort 5 of the Digital Health Leadership Programme is now closed to applicants from England.

We expect to communicate outcomes to Cohort 5 applicants by mid-May 2022.

Successful Cohort 5 applicants will commence their learning from September 2022. 

Applications from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are open from 25 April – 29 May 2022. Any interested applicants are advised to familiarise themselves with all the resources on these pages regarding the programme and contact [email protected] for further information on how to apply.

If you have questions on any details associated with the application process, please contact [email protected].

How does the application process work?

Step 1 – Preparing to apply

In advance of applying for future Cohorts applicants should:

  • Read the prospective applicant section to check eligibility for applying and to find out more details about the programme.
  • Read the programme overview section to understand what the programme will cover.

Step 2 – Submitting your application

Candidates from England were able to submit applications for Cohort 5 until the application deadline of 23:59pm 24 March 2022.

Applications were scored against four assessed questions to determine an individual’s suitability for the programme. These were:

  1. Please describe your experience of implementing practical digital transformation change within an organisation and/ or wider health and social care system (500 words maximum).
  2. How do you see your participation and completion of the Digital Health Leadership Programme benefiting you personally, your organisation, and the wider health and social care system? (500 words maximum)
  3. Which specific areas of the programme do you think will particularly support you in delivering digital transformation change within your organisation and wider system? (500 words maximum)
  4. Please outline the support and connections you can call upon to make the most of participating in the Digital Health Leadership Programme and how you can contribute your expertise to benefit others (500 word maximum).

The NHS Digital Academy is committed to developing an inclusive and transparent recruitment process for all its associated programmes. The assessment criteria for each of the four assessed questions is available to download in PDF format.

Step 3 – Confirming Executive Sponsor support

Applicants were required to provide details of their nominated Executive Sponsor (name, job title, organisation, contact email) within their application form.

As part of the application process all applicants were required to ensure that Executive Sponsors had confirmed their support for (endorsed) the application. Executive Sponsor's were required to complete a short survey  covering the following areas:

  • Basic details for themselves and the applicant they are sponsoring.
  • Confirming they have reviewed their candidate’s application and are satisfied that the information provided is reflective of the applicant’s position.
  • Confirming they have reviewed and are committed to the responsibilities of an Executive Sponsor.     

Step 4 – Assessing applications

Following the deadline all applications will be longlisted against the eligibility criteria for the programme, with any ineligible applicants notified.

Remaining applications will be shortlisted using the assessment criteria to score responses to the four assessed questions. The assessment criteria for each of the four assessed questions is available to download in PDF format.

Steps will be taken to support an inclusive and transparent approach for recruiting to the Digital Health Leadership Programme, including:

  • Anonymising all applications so panels cannot see names or personal details of those applying.
  • Scoring all applications twice individually to minimise bias/ subjectivity.
  • Delivering unconscious bias training to all shortlisters involved, as well as sharing assessment criteria in advance.

Step 5 – Outcomes communicated

Once all applications have been assessed and moderated (where necessary), applicants will be notified of one of the following outcomes of their application:

  • They have been successful and have been offered a place for Cohort 5.
  • They have been placed onto a reserve list for Cohort 5.
  • They have been unsuccessful in applying for Cohort 5.

We anticipate all outcomes will be communicated by early May 2022.

Successful applicants will be subsequently contacted by Imperial College London to begin the academic enrolment process (this is a separate, mandatory process) ready to commence learning from September 2022.

Applicants placed on the reserve list will be notified in advance of Cohort 5 commencing whether a place has become available for them. Those on the reserve list who are not offered a place on Cohort 5 will be offered a guaranteed ring-fenced place on a future Cohort, starting with Cohort 6. This will be subject to them still meeting the necessary eligibility criteria at the time of recruitment for that Cohort.

Unsuccessful applicants will be offered the option of receiving more detailed feedback on their application.

Non-urgent advice: The key timescales associated with applications for Cohort 5 are outlined below.


  • 22 February 2022 – Application window opens
  • 24 March 2022, 23:59 – Application window closes
  • April 2022 – Application assessment window
  • Early May 2022 – Application outcomes communicated
  • Mid-May 2022 onwards – Successful applicant enrolment (via Imperial College London)
  • September 2022 – Cohort 5 learning commences

What if I am unsuccessful?

We commit to offering individual feedback for unsuccessful applicants as we recognise some people may find it useful.

Related information