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NHS Digital chief Sarah Wilkinson to step down

By Jess Hacker
30 March 2021

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Sarah Wilkinson has resigned as NHS Digital’s chief executive and will leave the position in the summer, its Board has announced.

Ms Wilkinson has overseen the organisation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has included delivering digital services for NHS Test and Trace, publishing the shielded patients list, and supporting the rollout of the vaccination programme.

She will be leaving after four years in the post.

Ms Wilkinson said: ‘In 2020, as we responded so brilliantly to the pandemic, it is a source of pride and deep satisfaction to me that we were able to contribute so positively to the work of the NHS at such an unprecedented and nationally critical time.’

She added: ‘I believe there is a unique opportunity ahead for the digitisation of the system. As we emerge from the pandemic, the NHS has an appetite and a need for digitisation that is radically greater than it was in the period beforehand.

‘As an organisation, NHS Digital is now confident and growing in its abilities, from designing and building new digital products and platforms, to managing clinical data at scale, to operating technology systems and services and defending against cyber-attacks.’

Ms Wilkinson said that a new chief executive would be able to provide continuous leadership over NHS Digital’s post-Covid agenda, as its work related to the pandemic ‘starts to stabilise’.

Professor Sudhesh Kumar, vice chair and Board member, said: ‘The impact of her leadership has been seen most clearly in the organisation’s rapid, extensive and pivotal role in the national response of the health and care system to the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘The fact that she is recognised as one of the most influential leaders in digital and technology is a testament to all that she has delivered for health and care as well as her undoubted leadership qualities.’

NHS Digital is currently looking for an interim chief to work closely with Ms Wilkinson over the next few months, with recruitment for the role on a permanent basis opening later this year.

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