Digital has been placed at the heart of a new strategic partnership between the NHS’s education body and a government innovation agency.

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) will work closely with the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre to build a more skilled, capable and resilient health and social care workforce.

The relationship will bring ‘new opportunities to collaborate, maximise the strengths and expertise of each organisation and help achieve NES’s vision of supporting better rights-based quality care and outcomes for every person in Scotland’.

NES provides education, training, workforce development, data and technology for health and social care in Scotland. Its goal is to create a workforce that meets people’s needs, as well as the needs of staff, carers, and the people of Scotland by working in partnership with our staff, learners and stakeholders. 

The Strategic Partnership Framework Agreement will enable the development of the health and social care workforce and future design and delivery of health and social care services through innovation and the use of digital technologies. A collaborative work programme, which will be delivered via an agreed action plan, will focus on the following strategic areas: 

  • workforce development, education and training 
  • research development and innovation 
  • strategic level engagement with other organisations 
  • developing and deploying innovative technologies 
  • delivery of health and social care in remote and rural areas  

This strategic partnership approach will also support delivery of Scottish Government’s policy priorities to achieve a more skilled and knowledgeable workforce and better outcomes for citizens as well as helping drive innovation and boosting economic competitiveness. 
Professor Karen Reid, NES chief executive, said: “NES helps people who work in health and social care to get the education and skills they need to provide good quality care for people in Scotland. We operate within a continually changing environment and a health and social care system which is facing unprecedented challenges. We know that to be successful in achieving our ambition, we must embrace new ways of working, including innovation and advances in technology to enhance our impact across communities and the health and social care workforce. 

“We’re delighted to be working with DHI, whose experience and expertise in digital innovation enhances our own leadership and creativity in designing and delivering education and training and using technology. Our collaboration will help us achieve our ambition that staff have the right skills, confidence and motivation to provide better outcomes for the people of Scotland.” 

Professor George Crooks, chief executive of the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre, said: “This strategic partnership between NES and DHI recognises the important role that digital technologies can have in the delivery of safe, effective and sustainable health and care services into the future.  

“Creating a fertile environment where staff feel supported and empowered to utilise next generation digital tools and services to benefit patients, service users and their families while assisting them in their day to day activities can only be a good thing.” 

The strategic partnership will be supported by a governance framework, with accountability to each organisation’s Board. Bilateral arrangements at executive level will provide oversight and direction for collaborative programmes of work with agreed delivery arrangements, outcomes and appropriate lines of accountability.