This guide is designed to give board leaders a summary of the expert advice, guidance and peer learning produced by NHS Providers and Public Digital as part of the Digital Boards programme. Visit our Knowledge Hub to access a variety of additional digital resources for trust leaders. Over the course of three years of the Digital Boards programme, we have identified eight broad themes for good digital leadership at board level. These build on the existing literature and methodologies, including NHS England's What good looks like framework. Combined, we think they describe digitally mature board leadership in the NHS. We are using these to measure impact across our work:



Indicators of progress  


The board has a shared understanding of what digital means that goes beyond IT, and its importance as an enabler for key operational and strategic priorities.  

  • Digital is being discussed as part of almost all strategic conversations 
  • The board is aligned on a definition of digital that is broader than just IT. 


The board has sufficient knowledge of digital working practices to take a proportionate approach to risks and opportunities. 

  • Board members are increasingly conversant in the main benefits arising from digital transformation and take a proportionate approach to risk. 


The board is confident about how it gains appropriate assurance on digital and the delivery of its digital transformation programme. 

  • Board members know what signs to look for to tell if the digital programme is on track 
  • Boards are focussed on outcomes not outputs 
  • Board members are confident that the governance arrangements give the board the right visibility on risks and activity 
  • Board members understand what is happening beyond the milestones in a board paper 


The board are ambassadors for digital change across the trust and drive engagement across different staff, patient and service user groups.   

  • Board members are engaging at team level (for example attending show and tells, focus groups) 
  • Board members are providing visible leadership on the digital agenda, and supporting communications efforts  


Board members keep focus on the need to take collective responsibility for the digital agenda and understand how it's integral to all board portfolios.  

  • All board members are asking appropriate questions 
  • The board can point to benefits that have been realised within different departments across the organisation 


Digital is an integral part of the trust's strategy, with all board members clear on the trust's vision and investment priorities for digitally enabled health and care. 

  • The board is saying no to things that aren't in the strategy 
  • Board members can easily quote the trust/ICS's top digital priorities.  


The board has a relentless focus on the needs of patients, staff and service users. 

  • Board members are going to see for themselves to understand patient and staff experience
  • Boards are asking for insights from the helpdesk or user testing 
  • Boards are hearing patient stories relating to their digital experience. 


Board members are empowering teams in the trust to experiment with new ways of working, creating and encouraging a 'digital first' approach.  

  • The board is actively encouraging multidisciplinary teams of experts to work across digital, clinical and operations together 
  • The board unblocks things for teams rather than slowing them down 
  • The board can point to examples where the digital team has tried something new that didn't quite work, but then stopped it and learnt the lessons.  

Useful links 

For more information about Digital Boards, and how to take advantage of the free development offer for your board, please contact  

 Digital Boards Leadership guides in full 

  1. A new era of digital leadership 
  2. Building and enabling digital teams 
  3. Building a digital strategy 
  4. Making the right technology decisions 
  5. Digital Delivery Principles 
  6. Making the most of your electronic patient record system 

During our conversations with trust leaders and system leaders, we've received feedback about the need to provide support Integrated Care Boards. We are pleased that our Digital ICS programme, now up and running and delivered in partnership with the NHS Confederation, is helping drive similar changes at a system level. Please encourage your system leaders to take part and book a development session for their own board.