A SCOTTISH university has been selected to help train 300 "digital leaders" for the NHS in England and Wales.

Edinburgh University is joining forces with Imperial College London (ICL) and Harvard Medical School in the US to launch an NHS Digital Academy.

The health service south of the Border is playing catch-up with NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government, who launched Scotland’s Digital Health and Social Care Strategy 2017-22 in November last year. Edinburgh, ICL and Harvard were selected to lead the Digital Academy development after a competitive tender process.

In the new academy, digital masterclasses will be offered to healthcare professionals to drive innovation in the NHS and improve patient care.

The virtual organisation aims to train 300 information technology (IT) "leaders" for the health service over the next three years.

The Edinburgh-ICL-Harvard group will equip staff with the skills to use new technology to improve the patient experience and deliver service efficiencies, and is developing a 12-month, part-time training programme for NHS staff.

Topics including leadership and transformational change, public attitudes to the sharing of data and responding to user needs.

Courses will mainly be delivered online but will also include a residential component and a workplace project.

Participants will have access to the world’s foremost experts to ensure they graduate with an international outlook and a network of global leaders in the field. Professor Aziz Sheikh, co-director of the NHS Digital Academy and director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, said: “Developments in digital capabilities and data science are transforming many facets of our lives.

"It is crucial that these developments also harnessed to improve health care processes and patient experiences.”

Plans to establish an NHS Digital Academy were announced last year by Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health.