NHS Digital’s chief executive Sarah Wilkinson. Photo: NHS Digital

Sarah Wilkinson has resigned as the chief executive of NHS Digital after four years on the job. She will leave the organisation in the summer.

Wilkinson said: “As the work associated with the pandemic starts to stabilise, and planning commences for the ambitious program of transformation over the next few years, I have come to the conclusion that it would be better for a new CEO to step into the role now so that they can provide continuous leadership over the programs of that post-Covid agenda, and now is an appropriate time for me to leave the organisation.

“That new CEO will be able to build upon strong foundations in an organisation that knows what it can do, and I will work closely with them to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership for our programmes, products, and people.”

Prior to joining NHS Digital in August 2017, Sarah was CIO at The Home Office, and held CIO roles at a number of top-tier banks.

Praising Wilkinson’s commitment, chair of the NHS Digital Board Laura Wade-Gery, said: Her leadership and deep technology expertise are unarguable, but I have been equally struck by her care for her people, even in the most challenging times.

“I am sorry to see Sarah move on, but I know that she leaves a confident organisation fully aware of what it can achieve as a legacy to her successors.”

Wilkinson read Mathematics at Imperial College and holds an MBA from London Business School.

Vice chair and long-standing board member Professor Sudhesh Kumar said: “Sarah has been a powerfully effective leader for NHS Digital over the last few years. The scale and pace of the transformation in the organisation and its capabilities she has driven over the last four years is enormous.

“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.”

The NHS Digital board said it is currently seeking an interim CEO for the organisation for the coming months and that it will run an open competition to recruit for the role on a permanent basis later in the year.

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