The NHS Digital Academy has opened its doors for applications for selection into its first cohort of 100 students.

Unofficially, an informal application process has been open for a number of months while the Academy has been getting setup.

According to the NHS England website applications are now invited from existing and aspiring digital leaders across health and social care including Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIOs), Chief Information Officers (CIOs), and senior operational, technical and clinical managers.

Intended to train 300 NHS digital leaders over the next three years, the first cohort was initially open just to staff from Global Digital Exemplars and Fast Followers, which  will remain the priority, but places will now also be available to a wider range of health and care staff and organisations.

The Academy is a virtual organisation which has been commissioned by NHS England and is being delivered by a partnership of Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh and Harvard Medical School.

Rachel Dunscombe, Director of Digital for Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, was announced as chief executive of the Academy in August.

According to the Imperial College website its Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Health Leadership “underpins the NHS Digital Academy​”.

The Academy was set up in response to Professor Robert Wachter’s 2016 Making IT Work report, which said the NHS lacked sufficiently trained leaders able to drive forward digital transformation.​

Dr Harpreet Sood, associate CCIO at NHS England, who has led on the NHS Digital Academy, said: “Investing in the people tasked with making technology work in the NHS is as important as investing in the technology itself.”

“This is why we’ve created the NHS Digital Academy because we want the NHS modernisation to be led by world class leaders.”

Will Smart, chief information officer NHS England, said: “The NHS Digital Academy is one way to ensure that we continue to develop capable and competent digital leaders for the future.”

Applicants must have five years informatics or digital experience, the support of their chief executive, and be able to attend three residential training sessions over the 12-months of the postgraduate diploma.

Applicants will be expected to commit to three to five hours of study per week and attend up to twelve days of in-person residential sessions spread across 12 months.

The Imperial website adds: “You are supported to immediately apply what you have learnt by carrying out a transformational change project within your organisation in parallel with taught modules”.

Applications are now live. For more information and to register click here.