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  • April 27, 2022
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Discussing Digital Leadership in the NHS with Jo Ranger, Digital Programme Manager at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust


Jo Ranger, Digital Programme Manager for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, joined the NHS following a long career in the private sector. She worked in private health insurance for approximately 20 years, working in a variety of roles including team management, project and programme management and programme delivery. 

In her current role, Jo manages the programme delivery team with responsibility for 14 people. The team’s current focus is – following selection for support and funding from NHS X– implementing an electronic patient record for the trust.

“Learn Every Day”

 Jo’s leadership ethos is to be authentic and supportive. She also advocates the importance of allowing people to make mistakes whilst also being there as a support mechanism to provide feedback, making sure that they feel reassured.

“It’s okay to make mistakes, we all learn that way. Being supportive, and being available, for your team makes you a good leader, but it also involves thinking about the future and having that strategic view in terms of what’s coming up, what we need to think about, how we’re going to support that, how we’re going to fund it. Having that big overall picture really helps.”

Coming from the corporate sector into the NHS was a big learning curve for Jo. The NHS is a dynamic service with unique processes and over one million employees, it took Jo time to understand the different procedures and how things work. Jo found that the best way to handle the change was through embracing learning and undertaking thorough research, as well as learning from her team. 

“I learned from my colleagues as well. I’m not the font of all knowledge. I learned from everything that these guys do every day. I utilise those people’s skills and knowledge to be able to help me develop and to help me do my job.”

 Digital Leadership During a Pandemic

In order to achieve in a role like Jo’s, it is often necessary to be reactive – particularly when  the global COVID pandemic happened. However, when doing things reactively it is still important to take time to consider the outcomes, and this is Jo’s advice to those following in her footsteps.

“You need to take that breath and have that time to think, is this the right thing to do? Don’t get into the mindset of ‘we’ve got to get this done and worry about the consequences afterwards.’”

Of course, the pandemic has brought about numerous digital changes that needed to be made to ensure that the NHS could continue working as effectively as possible. Some of these projects included ensuring the digital teams were set up to work from home – not an easy task as supply chains suffered – as well as setting up video consultations and setting up vaccination bookings.

“We had to implement a booking system, get slots available, and arrange the communication around it as well. That was really a big step forward. We’ve had to do that a couple of times, obviously with the boosters, and we may also have to do that again in the future if there is a fourth vaccination. But we’ve got that model now, so we know what we’re doing and we could just pick that up and roll it out.” 

Thanks to the work that digital teams have done to keep things moving, productivity has remained high throughout the pandemic, and this has been of great benefit to the NHS.

In terms of productivity, I think it has increased – certainly from an administrative function. People have found working from home really beneficial. All teams, both clinical and non-clinical, have been under immense pressure, and it hasn’t gone away, we’re still seeing high demand on our services and the pressures that brings. However productivity remains high across all areas and in Digital, we continue to deliver projects and support colleagues with new ways of working.”

With big transformation projects lined up for the future – including the electronic patient record procurement and implementation – Jo is excited about her role and the benefits that her work directly brings to others.

“Digital is definitely an enabler within a trust. To be able to see that we are offering a service to the patients and our colleagues, but also to be able to see that we can develop and support all people within digital, and that they are able to achieve and deliver is definitely one of the things that I’m most passionate about.”   

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