How long is the programme?

The Topol Digital Fellowship is approximately 12 months in length starting in April. There will be regular learning sessions, talks from digital health and social care practitioners and online community drop-in sessions scheduled throughout the 12 months plus additional opportunities across the digital health and social care arena.

Programme components

At the core of the Topol Digital Fellowship programme is the protection of time over 12 months for the Topol Fellow to work on a digital change project in their workplace.

When an applicant succeeds in becoming a Topol Fellow, NHS England will provide:

  • A bursary up to £15,000 paid to the fellow’s employer to be used as they wish to support the fellow to conduct their digital project
  • An initial, face-to-face learning and networking day at the beginning of the programme
  • A comprehensive programme of half-day online workshops
  • A series of lunch-and-learn events
  • Ongoing support and mentoring for fellows from the programme delivery partners
  • Invitations for current fellows to three masterclass events alongside alumni of the fellowship programme
  • An online course about the possible applications of AI and Machine Learning in health and social care comprising of live webinars and self-directed online learning
  • A face-to-face showcase and networking day celebrating the fellow’s achievements in digital health and care at the close of the programme.

In return for the above, the fellow’s employer must:

  • Protect 0.2-0.4WTE of the fellow’s time to focus on the deliverables of the Fellowship. We expect a minimum of 0.2 WTE to be protected but recommend that 0.4 WTE is fully protected. This protected time is mandatory for the completion of the fellowship and the receipt of the bursary. However, the programme is flexible as to how this time is taken over the 12 months of the programme.
  • Ensure that the bursary of up to £15,000 is ringfenced and used to support to fellow to carry out their project. The bursary can be used however is felt necessary to support the Topol Fellow’s project. For example, it could be used to fund backfill or investment in technology or administrative support. A mid-point and end of programme financial summary of spend will be requested by the Programme Team
  • Ensure that the fellow’s project has a named project sponsor who will champion and support the fellow within their organisation.
  • Enable the fellow to:
    • Lead the delivery of a digital transformation project for the duration of the programme
    • Attend and engage in all scheduled events
    • Engage in the online MS Teams community
    • Provide the programme with project updates and peers with support and feedback on their projects when requested
    • Participate when invited to provide feedback on the progress of the programme
    • Openly share knowledge gained on the programme with colleagues both in Fellow’s own organisation and in the wider health and social care system

To support the design and delivery of fellows’ projects, the programme will support and stimulate fellows to explore a range of digital transformation techniques. The workshop programme will have a strong focus on people-centred development of products and services and it will start with a strong emphasis on understanding problems, and on researching user needs rather than identifying solutions to problems.

Pastoral support

In order to support the Topol Fellows a number of pastoral support provisions have been put in place to guide them through the programme. This support comes from a variety of places and as adult learners there is an expectation that they will navigate through the options as appropriate to their own needs. The role of the fellowship is to ensure that there is an adequate number of routes to support offering a range of interventions.

Programme team support

  • 1:1 support meetings – available at the request of the fellow to explore a specific issue
  • Opportunities to feed back formally

Programme delivery partner support

  • Two drop-in sessions following each learning activity – fellows have the opportunity to join a group drop-in session and discuss anything the wish relating to the programme content
  • 1:1 support meetings – available at the request of the fellow to explore a specific issue

Mentoring and coaching

  • Access to Alumni and professionals within the NHS Digital Academy

Peer support

  • A facilitated online community offering a platform for sharing information, interaction and communication
  • Peer groups – project subject matter groups have been established to enable face-to-face meetings and support for those who prefer a peer led approach

Ongoing quality improvement

  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of the programme is continuous to ensure it meets the needs of the NHS, the social care sector and the individual learners
  • Fellows have the opportunity to contribute to this evaluation and shape the future of the programme

How do I complete my fellowship?

The Topol Digital Fellowship does not require full implementation of a digital change project as an outcome from the programme. It is acknowledged that all projects have different timelines and phases of implementation. Completion of the programme will be demonstrated through the appropriate use of the protected time and the allocated bursary, via which the project will be expected to have moved forward, and attendance at all the mandatory programme sessions.

Hear from Topol Fellows and Alumni

In these videos Topol Fellows and Alumni discuss their projects and experiences.

Watch the videos.