rachel dunscombe cio 100

NHS Digital Academy has appointed Salford Royal Group Director of Digital Rachel Dunscombe as Chief Executive as part of the new training drive to digitise the NHS.

Rachel Dunscombe, a high-flyer in recent editions of the CIO 100, will take the post on a part-time basis alongside her role at Salford Royal Group.

Salford Royal will work in collaboration with three universities to deliver the project – Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh, and Harvard Medical School. The scheme will see the Academy provide virtual lessons in leadership and digital skills, and is designed to complement the existing Building a Digital Ready Workforce (BDRW) National Information Board (NIB) programme.

The Academy, first announced by health secretary Jeremy Hunt in September 2016, is part of the NHS' wider plan to get hospital staff up to speed on digital skills and to take advantage the improvements new technologies could bring to patient care.

According to NHS England, the Academy will open for applications in September and students will spend up to 12 months studying part-time.

"I am so incredibly excited about the Academy and absolutely honoured to be leading it," Dunscombe said. "This is an amazing opportunity for us to act as a catalyst for the CIOs and CCIOs, equipping them with the skills and leadership to safely digitise the NHS.

"By doing this, we would create significant improvements for both patients accessing NHS services and health professionals working within it.

"From a patient perspective, it would allow access to services, speedier diagnosis and long-term conditions such as diabetes to monitor their health remotely. For health professionals smarter, better-designed systems could simplify their working day making their practice more efficient while giving them more time with patients."

The collaboration will build on Professor Wachter's review of IT in the NHS, which included strengthening the Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO) field in its recommendations.

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