Sarah Wilkinson leaves Home Office to lead NHS Digital

Home Office’s chief digital, data and technology officer has been named as successor to Andy Williams

Wilkinson is to leave the Home Office later this year – Photo credit: Steve Cadman, CC BY-SA 2.0

Sarah Wilkinson, the chief digital, data and technology officer at the Home Office, is to take over from Andy Williams as the chief executive officer of NHS Digital.

Announcing the appointment today (18 April), the chair of NHS Digital Noel Gordon said that Wilkinson brought with her a “vast experience of implementing complex technology projects”.

He said that she was joining the organisation – formerly known as the Health and Social Care Information Centre – at “a pivotal time for health and care as we work hard to empower the system through digital transformation”.


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Wilkinson has worked at the Home Office since February 2015, and has overseen a number of major IT changes within the department, including a merger of the digital and technology units in July last year – when she took on her current title, having previously been chief technology officer.

She said in a Home Office statement that working in the department had been “an absolute privilege”, and that the team would go from “strength to strength” in the coming years.

“Over the past two years we have delivered some fantastic new services and systems,” she said. “In doing so, we have demonstrated an ability to provide reliable, secure, adaptable systems for Home Office businesses through design leadership, sophisticated sourcing approaches and maximising leverage of the technology marketplace.”

Before entering government, Wilkinson held a series of technology positions at financial institutions, including as at Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank, as well as spending more than a decade working at Lehman Brothers.

She said that she was “thrilled” to be joining NHS Digital, and that part of the draw of the role was the chance to work “an incredibly talented team” of clinicians as well as healthcare technologists.

“Digital and technical capabilities and the fast-evolving market in platforms, software, devices and analytics, are transforming the ability of the medical profession to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases,” Wilkinson said in a statement. “To be asked to work at the forefront of delivering these capabilities is hugely exciting.”

However, she will also be dealing with a backlog of controversies that NHS Digital has faced since its creation in 2013, including the cancellation of the government’s patient data sharing programme and concerns over the sharing of patient information with the Home Office for immigration enforcement.

Williams – who spent three years at the helm – announced his resignation in November last year, and as of this month, the position has been filled by Rob Shaw, who will continue in this role until Wilkinson joins NHS Digital this summer. Recruitment for Wilkinson’s replacement at the Home Office is expected to start shortly.

This article was amended on 19 April to include a statement from the Home Office.


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