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NHS in pledge to support ethnic minority women into digital health careers

Women from ethnic minorities will have new opportunities to build a career in the growing field of digital health, thanks to a new pledge agreed by the region's NHS.

The North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) and the Shuri Network have marked International Women's Day by committing to create up to four new Shuri network fellowships, to help women from minority ethnic backgrounds develop their skills in an area where they are under-represented.

Digital health means the use of digital technology to improve the operation and quality of health care systems and services, as well as the health of patients. It includes fast-growing areas such as collection and use of data, creating apps for use in patient care, and electronic systems for prescriptions, appointments and patient records. It also includes telemedicine, which makes it possible to monitor and treat patients in their own homes through 'virtual wards'.

Professor Graham Evans, the ICB's executive chief digital and information officer, said: "We are firmly committed to widening opportunities for everyone in our region, from groups who are under-represented in our workforce to people living in areas of deprivation and poor health.

"By working with the Shuri Network, we can widen opportunities in a field that is vitally important for the NHS's future. Across the region, we are working to improve our people's health significantly by 2030, and making good use of technology is a key part of that ambition.

"The fellowships we are announcing today will not just help in widening opportunity, but also in providing the highly skilled workforce our NHS needs for the future."

The initiative is supported by the Shuri Network, which brings together women from ethnic minorities working in digital health, helping to build skills for a digital future.

Dr Shera Chok, co-founder and chair of the Shuri Network, said: "Technology and data are key enablers of improving patient care, access and outcomes. As we develop new digital services and tools for our staff and population, we must also ensure we also grow a diverse and inclusive digital workforce and leadership pipeline. The Shuri Network is excited about working with the ICB on this innovative programme to increase digital expertise, support career progression and help deliver your digital priorities." 

The new fellowships will offer coaching and peer support and the chance to develop skills working on digital projects, as well as opportunities to learn from successful role models.

Women from ethnic minority backgrounds working in the NHS can join the Shuri Network free to find out more, with applications opening in April.

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