A 12 month learning set for clinical leads from 10 News Models of Care Vanguards in order to build their confidence and leadership abilities in the digital sphere.

Markus Spiske Qozz Jp Fz2Lg Unsplash


Digital Leaders was a 12 month learning set for clinical leads from 10 TECS Vanguards Funded by NHS England, the learning set aimed to build the digital confidence of practitioners delivering digital projects. 

The learning set was a combination of practice workshops and an online community. We partnered with Cumbrian Centre for Health Technologies who registered participants onto the University of Cumbria Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Health. We also collaborated with the NHS Leadership Academy who delivered workshop sessions on a range of leadership models. Our learning set was therefore a blend of peer learning, theoretical models and academic study.

Learning Points

Blog club - A blog club was established to share ideas and feedback, this was hosted on the Digital Practitioner website and provided an opportunity for the participants to develop social sharing skills of their Vanguards.

Learning set meetups - The 10 clinical leads came together for four meetings during the year to share their learning, review progress, and discuss how to move forward. Each learning set was delivered by mHabitat, with University of Cumbria providing academic input.

Mentoring - Tutorial support was available from the University of Cumbria was made available throughout the course of the year. Clinical leads could also access one-to-one telephone or in person mentoring from mHabitat, this was made available to address specific issue.

Case studies - During the 12 month period, mHabitat worked with each of the clinical leads to develop in-depth case studies from the Vanguards in order to share learning and create a legacy from the project. The case studies each included: a pen portrait of the Vanguard, a patient story, a practitioner story, and vox pops where appropriate.

Sharing learning event - There will be a sharing learning webinar in March 2018 for the 10 clinical leads to celebrate their achievements over the year and to share learning with the wider Vanguards.

Accreditation - Participants were automatically registered onto the University of Cumbria Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Health, which included online learning and support from the university.

NHS Expo and EHI Live - mHabitat will deliver presentations at two NHS events during the year to share learning from the Building a Digitally Ready Vanguard programme.


“Through our work with the New Care Model Vanguards, it was raised a number of times that the digital literacy – or perhaps more fairly the confidence in using digital tools – of our staff is a significant challenge to the delivery of solutions. Actually I think if we look at things more fairly I think we will see that the confidence and goodwill of staff to working with new systems has been eroded over time by lack of training and support, pressure of their day to day work and excessive demands on their time – i.e. just doing the business as usual, never mind the transformational, and in some cases previous implementations which haven’t gone well.  Implementing new ways of working is really challenging, even when people are brought into the change, dual running of processes, trial and error in getting things right and the pressure of learning something new whilst maintaining a successful service is tough, and we have a history in health and care of not giving sufficient time and resource to this process.

Whilst we can’t undo the past, and we don’t have a silver bullet to solve the financial constraints or make implementations easier, we had the opportunity with the new care models to give them a bit of extra support to work through some of these barriers. Following feedback from the vanguards we established the NCM Digital Leaders programme, the aim of this was to give some of those digital champions working with front line services some time, space and coaching about the best ways to go about delivering change, to share some of their challenges and successes and to support each other in a peer to peer network. 

Whilst we knew when we started working with mHabitat and the University of Cumbria that they would have access to some fabulous support  and critical friendship to help them develop, we couldn’t have guessed at how close this team of leaders would become.

Through the leadership of mHabitat the group have used an online collaboration channel, and have been encouraged to share their progress and learning and with each other through this medium. To say it has been a success would be an understatement, we seem to have tapped into a goldmine of expertise, resourcefulness and mutual appreciation with this cohort that has frankly been heart-warming to witness. One of the best examples of this, for me, is their early steps towards blogging, the group were nervous about committing their personal views to paper (or digital) and sharing these,  but through mutual encouragement they got over this and are now regularly blogging and critiquing other work.

All of this has been achieved by the expert stewardship of mHabitat and the University of Cumbria, with the right mix of support, guidance and cajoling and their in depth understanding of not only the health and care system but digitally-enabled transformation, they seem to have achieved a degree of alchemy! I only wish we could give all our staff access to this programme.”

-Helen Arthur (NHS England)

"I wanted to drop you an email to say a big thank you for the opportunity to be involved in this programme of work. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to explore my digital leader skills and work alongside and learn from some brilliant digital leaders across health and social care. It’s given me lots of thoughts, different ways of approaching things, new tools in my tool box and I hope it is making me a better leader in this area.

I’ve met some great people and will look forward to keeping in touch with them. Thanks again for making this happen."

- Rachael Forbister (NHS Sunderland CCG)

Image credit Markus Spiske


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Pete Nuckley

Deputy Director (Design and Delivery)

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