NHS England is hoping to train 300 NHS staff to become “digital leaders” by 2021 by running them through a 12-month training course.

Acting on behalf of NHS England, Capita is looking for a partner to run the “NHS Digital Academy”. The contract will be worth about £6 million over three years, according to an advertisement published by the company.

The academy will train up to 300 chief information officers and chief clinical information officers covering off, informatics, system design, leadership and management, clinic decision support, using data and IT implementation.

The resulting qualification needed to ensure partipants were ready “to lead and set strategy for digital and ehealth innovation across the health system from large scale health IT systems… to personal health and wellness devices”.

These leaders are also expected to develop a strong understanding of data and how it could be used to improve clinical decision making and care planning.

Every six months another 50 potential digital leaders would begin a 12-month part-time course, with a cohort of 300 needed by end of 2020/21.

That suggests that the academy will need to start training its intake in the latter half the 2017/18, with about £20,000 allocated per digital leader.

The advertisement said these 300 professionals would help “drive health and care transformation enabled by technology and informatics including up-skilling of current CCIOs/CIOs”.

Prospective bidders for the academy contract are holding their first “market engagement event” with NHS England on Tuesday morning. A formal request of proposals is expected to be published by the end of the month.

The academy is part of NHS England’s response to Bob Wachter’s review of NHS IT, published in September.

Among other recommendations, the review identified a lack of digital know-how in the NHS, as one of biggest barriers to digital transformation.

“The advisory group was struck by the small number of leaders at most trusts who are trained in both clinical care and informatics, and their limited budgetary authority and organisational clout,” it says.

The US doctor and author recommended that £42 million be committed to training staff to 2020/21, including setting up a digital academy, with the aim of having five clinically trained IT experts in the average sized trust.

During the Health and Social Expo in Manchester in September, health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the Government would support a digital academy to train this next generation of digital leaders.

At the time, Hunt said the academy would be hosted by a university, which would be selected through a national competition.

In November, NHS England’s Harpreet Sood, who is leading the project, told an EHI Live audience in Birmingham that digital academy would be virtual, and “leverage our current assets and infrastructure”, rather than creating any new content.