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NHSX earmarks £100,000 for skunkworks director role

NHSX has launched a search for a digital expert to create a new skunkworks unit tasked with accelerating the health service’s adoption of new technology.

The successful candidate will earn a minimum of £100,000 a year, work in Leeds and be charged with identifying opportunities to develop lightweight software and data anlaysis tools that “challenge the status quo”.

NHSX was launched in April last year as part of health secretary Matt Hancock’s plans to modernise the health service. It followed a period of prolonged underinvestment in NHS IT which contributed to the multi-million pound fallout of the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017.

In a job advert posted online, NHSX said it is looking for candidates with experience of leading software or web engineering teams and overseeing development environments. “You will have proven leadership skills and the ability to motivate and lead multi-disciplinary, agile teams in complex, highly political environments,” the advert states.

The skunkworks director will report to NHSX’s chief technology officer, Hadley Beeman, and also provide briefings to the health secretary Matt Hancock and other ministers.

NHSX is responsible for overseeing NHS Digital and is a joint initiative between the Department for Health and Social Care and NHS England. Its key priorities are freeing up clinicians to spend more time with patients, giving patients the tools to access services directly, improving safety and boosting NHS productivity through technology.

In an opening statement in the candidate pack, NHSX chief executive Matthew Gould said: “Before I became the CEO, I spent time meeting the patients and staff who came into contact with NHS technology every day, to find out where we’re making progress and where we’re falling short. Everywhere I went I saw a dedication to thewelfare of patients and a deep concern for patient safety.

“I also saw some truly world-class digital innovation going on in parts of the NHS.We’re not starting from scratch, but I was left in no doubt about the scale of the challenge ahead. Our people are working to ensure we get thetechnology right. This is a critical part of modernising the NHS, ensuring it remains affordable as demand and workforce pressures rise.”

Candidates have until 15 January to apply.