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Digital leadership: a potted history
  1. James Freed,
  2. Beth Johnson
  1. Innovation, Digital and Transformation Directorate, Health Education England, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Beth Johnson, Health Education England, Leeds, UK; beth.johnson{at}

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In 2014, the National Information Board published a document called Personalised Health and Care 2020 (PH&C).1 The document described a vision of a future for data and technology in health and care. It was, of sorts, a strategy for technology delivery and was a successor to a number of other strategy documents, all describing similar far-reaching goals, as well as responding to learning from the largely unsuccessful ambitions of the National Programme for Information Technology (NPfIT).2 What was unique, however, was the buy-in this document claimed to have achieved. The National Information Board had a broad membership. Every Arms’ Length Body of the Department of Health as well as organisations representing local government and social care had a seat at the table. Consequently PH&C 2020 was created to seal the deal for a unified approach to health and care technology in England.

In this document, there was a chapter on ‘Support(ing) care professionals to make the best use of data and technology’ and that formulated a work programme for the precursor of today’s Health Education England (HEE) Digital Readiness Programme. It was the first-time data and technology skills were so explicitly referenced in a UK health and care digital strategy. Although PH&C 2020 document may have failed to articulate a clear target state, consequently failing to demonstrate how it would address the operational challenges of the system, it did identify the need to address ‘people issues’ in large technology programmes across the National Health Service (NHS) and in particular the need for the whole health and care workforce to be ‘Digitally Ready’.

Why are we so interested in being ‘digitally ready’?

The theory behind Digital Readiness has not wildly altered since the publication of PH&C 2020, though evidence has been accrued that strengthens it. In short, we are in an age of accelerating change, particularly with regard …

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  • Twitter @jamesfreed5, @HEE_DigiReady

  • Contributors JF planned, researched and wrote the study. BJ researched references, proofed, copy edited and submitted the study.

  • Funding This study was funded by NHSX (N/A) and NHS Digital (N/A).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.