Inclusive recruitment

All current and future programmes which form part of the NHS Digital Academy model are committed to taking a more inclusive recruitment approach, ensuring those from underrepresented groups have the best chance of making a successful application. 

Ahead of commencing recruitment for Cohort 4 of the Digital Health Leadership Programme in 2021, a review was undertaken by Health Education England of the application process, based upon learning from previous Cohorts (1 to 3).

This was aligned to the publication of the Future Vision of the NHS Digital Academy which outlines the planned expansion of programmes and development opportunities that will be offered by the NHS Digital Academy. One of the key principles outlined within the Future Vision articulates an ambition to “embed a transparent and inclusive recruitment process for programmes with emphasis on reaching underrepresented groups”.

You can read the inclusive recruitment report which summarises the key findings and the full interventions we committed to implementing ahead of recruitment for Cohort 4 to improve our processes. 

Following successful completion of recruitment for Cohort 4 we also took the opportunity to reflect and review the impact of our original interventions. 

Overall, we were pleased to have seen improvements to the diversity and inclusivity of Cohort 4 of the Digital Health Leadership Programme, with some of the key headlines including:

  • Increased number of offers made to female applicants (42% for Cohort 4 compared to 39% for Cohort 3).
  • Increased number of offers made to applicants from a BAME background (29% for Cohort 4 compared to 19% for Cohort 3).
  • Increased number of offers made to professional groups of the workforce previously identified as being underrepresented on the programme – 12% of offers were made to nurses, 10% to Allied Health Professionals, and 3% to midwives.
  • Increased diversity among shortlisting panels – 25% of shortlisters for Cohort 4 were from a BAME background (compared to 6% for Cohort 3).
  • Shortlisters provided with anonymised applications – all applications were independently scored twice.
  • Individual feedback was provided to all unsuccessful and successful applicants.

You can read the full details in our report: Reflections on developing an inclusive recruitment process.

While we were pleased with the progress made towards developing an inclusive recruitment process for Cohort 4, we recognise there is still further work to be done. Additional areas for future consideration included how the programme is promoted, the application process, and how feedback is provided are some of the key areas highlighted. 

Based on the learning gained from recruiting previous Cohorts we have already begun to address areas highlighted for consideration and improvement ahead of recruiting for Cohort 5, including:

  • Providing prospective applicants with additional information about the programme contents on our website.
  • Enhancing the guidance on eligibility criteria for the programme.
  • Strengthening the guidance relating to Executive Sponsors and how they are involved in the application process.
  • Improving our processes for the distribution of offers among eligible organisations.

Our ambition is to be guided by initiatives which encourage a diverse range of individuals to both apply and be successful in securing a place on the Digital Health Leadership Programme. Regular updates on any additional initiatives and their impacts will be made available on this website.

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