The CCIO and Health CIO Networks, have issued an open invitation to partner with potential bidders on the new £6m NHS Digital Academy programme, expected to train 300 NHS IT leaders over the next few years.

The two independent leadership networks, established five years ago, have nearly 1,000 individual members drawn from across the NHS.

The open invitation was issued follow a number of approaches by different parties putting together bids to deliver the new NHS Digital Academy, being developed to improve training of CCIOs and CIOs.

After being approached by a number of potential bidders the elected advisory panels of the networks decided that it was essential to work with all interested parties both pre and post contract award.

The leadership of the advisory panels of the networks decided it is essential to adopt an open position in order to best be able to support the new Academy and ensure it most effectively meets the needs of all NHS CCIOs and CIOs.

They wish to explore partnership opportunities with any potential bidders for new NHS Digital Academy, and will not exclusively support any one single bid.

Dr Joe McDonald chairman of the CCIO Network, said “The CCIO Network has championed the development of CCIOs in the NHS and provided a peer network for the many that have been appointed.

“This network has momentum, energy and committed members, it makes absolute sense that the CCIO Network now work with academic partners to play a central role in shaping and successfully delivering the new NHS Digital Academy.”

Adrian Byrne, director of informatics at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and chair of the Health CIO Network said, “Many of us first generation NHS CIOs have wandered into the role without shared, common qualifications or certification. This makes gaining that credibility possibly harder. We welcome the academy as part of a set of tools and qualifications that will help in the role, and a professional registration process for the wider IT professional roles.”

Byrne stressed the importance of shared qualifications and knowledge networks linking CCIOs and CIOs, “The link up between CCIO and CIO is hugely importance, and typically quite difficult to achieve in many hospitals. These can be quite lonely roles if there is no peer support.”

The CCIO and Health CIO Networks are the twin leadership networks for NHS IT leaders focused on collaboration, knowledge and best practice exchange and professional networking.

The networks currently have membership covering 65% of NHS trusts in England, with strongest coverage in acute and mental health providers, followed by community and primary care.  Membership includes representation from all acute and mental health GDEs

Together, they constitute by far the best developed, most broadly based, independent network of NHS IT and informatics leaders in England.

Collaboration, best practice and networking activities in the CCIO and Health CIO networks are currently delivered through a combination of quarterly regional best practice site visit events; fortnightly best practice webinars; and the annual two-day residential Summer Schools, now in its fifth edition.   This is underpinned by a vibrant private online collaboration community.

Further research work includes an annual survey of CCIO, together with NHS IT Leadership Survey, surveys, research and a vibrant private online collaboration community.

Procurement has begun for the establishment of a new NHS Digital Academy programme to improve the skills of current and future NHS CCIOs and CIOs, with bids to be submitted by the end of April.

The tender suggests a university-led bid will be most appropriate to deliver the £6m NHS Digital Academy, which aims to train 300 NHS CCIOs, CIOs and future digital leaders over the next few years to a masters-level qualification.

The initiative, being managed by NHS England, stems from recommendations made in Dr Robert Wachter’s review of NHS IT, published in September 2016.

A briefing paper on the networks provided for potential bidders.

And to help inform how the networks can work with potential bidders during the procurement phase and post contract award a working group of current and former leaders of the CCIO and Health CIO networks has been established

Any interested parties are asked to contact in the first instance.