The digital transformation of health, built on data science and artificial intelligence, is a major opportunity for the NHS, but only if we are ready to engage with it.

HDR UK Midlands has conducted an in-depth exploration, authored by Rosalind Hay at the University of Birmingham, to understand the current state of health data science training across the Midlands region.  The report, a collaborative effort of clinical and academic professionals from both the East and West Midlands, is poised to shape the future of healthcare data science training and education.

This scoping exercise is the first step for HDR UK Midlands to craft a tailor-made training strategy for the region. The report reveals key challenges, including geographical hurdles within the Midlands and time constraints. Despite these challenges, the new HDR UK Midlands website and its growing community emerge as valuable resources, offering opportunities for learning and collaboration throughout the region.

Dr. Fiona Pearce, Director of HDR UK Midlands based at the University of Nottingham, emphasises the importance of investing in our people, stating, “Our region hosts some of the greatest hospitals and academic institutions within the UK. Enhancing training for our people is critical to advancing health data science within the UK.” 

 The Midlands’ diversity positions it as strategically important to unite professional communities, fostering upskilling and developing a future-ready workforce.

Professor Alastair Denniston, Director of HDR UK Midlands based at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, notes, “We now understand some of the gaps in our learning provision. This report will allow us to develop a strategy that ultimately upskills our people, improves patient care and encourages economic prosperity.”

Interestingly, the report sheds light on an untapped resource: nurses are currently underrepresented in HDR UK Midlands. There is an opportunity to bring this crucial professional group to the forefront of health data science. Professor Joseph Manning MBE, Professor of Nursing and Child Health from the University of Leicester and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, stressed the importance of nurses and midwives in health data research and their role in improving health services.

Joseph states “Supporting nurses and midwives from across the region to get involved and lead health data research projects is crucial for the continuous improvements that are needed across the Midlands health and care system.   Our regional nursing and midwifery workforce has a huge amount of talent and potential to contribute their front-line knowledge and expertise to health data science.  This report highlights an opportunity for HDR Midlands to strengthen work with NHS and HEI stakeholders to build and embed innovative, collaborative and sustainable approaches to ensure nurses and midwives are engaged, skilled, and visible in health data research”

Recognising the regional importance, Sarah Cadman, Programme Director for Capacity Building at HDR UK highlights:

“Understanding skills gaps in health data science is crucial for the UK’s healthcare landscape. This report sheds light on existing gaps in the Midlands region, emphasising the need for collaborative efforts. This initiative could be a blueprint for other regions to strengthen the UK’s capacity to harness health data effectively.”

Looking ahead, HDR UK plans to set up a series of workshops to finalise a comprehensive health data science training strategy for the region. If you are interested in getting involved and help shape the training strategy for the region, then please email:

This initiative marks a significant step towards strengthening the region’s capacity to optimise healthcare delivery and meet the evolving needs of its’ population.

Read the full report

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