Where are all the NHS Trust CIOs?

Photo of cat hiding (source: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1216476)

TL;DR: Executive Summary

This has turned into a long piece as I’ve drilled into more data, so deserves a high level summary.

  • Trust Boards are lacking technical representation. Only 22% of 226 Trusts have a CIO on the Board. Are Boards being made aware of the 2019 Topol review, which states that 90% of NHS roles will require digital skills in 20 years? So much will change through technology over the next 20 years, impacting on clinicians, operations, finance and strategy, so it is worrying that 78% of Boards are not preparing. It would seem that technical leaders in NHS Trusts are failing to publicly advocate why they deserve a role on the Board to support the organisation of the future.
  • Having a CIO on the Board does not correlate to HIMMS levels. So far there is too little data to conclude if having a CIO on the Board is a higher indicator of achieving HIMSS EMRAM Level 6 or 7.
  • Openess is poor. It is really hard to find out who the most senior person is in a NHS Trust, or what the reporting line is for them, save submitting an FOI. Of the 226 Trusts, it was not possible to find the name of the CIO at 45 (20%). Of the 173 Trusts without a CIO on the Board, it was only possible to find the reporting lines for 38 of them. How can this be right? CIOs, regardless of presence on the Board need to have public visibility, to be banging the drum for the opportunities presented by technology to solve problems, to be open to connections from other CIOs or suppliers. As my research into NHS Trust Cloud-First policies in 2020 showed, lack of being openess extends to strategies and policies too.
  • General Digital Presence is lacking. Much of the NHS Trust CIO community are not shaping themselves or their organisation to work in a way appropriate for the internet era. Of the 169 names that I could find, 90% have a present on LinkedIn, 47% are on Twitter and 1.2% have personal/hosted blogs. Whilst this looks ok on first inspection, many of the LinkedIn accounts have minimal profiles, including lack of a photo. Things aren’t much better when you look into more detail on Twitter — there are only 22 CIOs with any notable Twitter volume. And as for blogging, there are only two of us. Shouldn’t it be expected that those charged with leading the digital transformation of the NHS are embracing the tools available and role modelling their use?

Who are the NHS Trust CIOs?


This started off as a simple check on how many CIOs were on Trust Boards, but it developed over the course of a couple of weeks. My research methodology is shown at the foot of this article along with a link to the source data.

Image of coin operated binoculars (source: Wikimedia)

CIO Representation on Boards

Of the 226 Trusts checked, 22% (49) have a CIO or equivalent role on the Board. On the face of it, this is a pretty decent start, but if every organisation is indeed a technology organisation [paraphrased from the well-known Forbes article which originated from 2011], then this is surely a massive failure in two very much interrelated parts.

CIOs not on the Board

There are 173 (78%) Trusts without a CIO on the Board. In trying to find out more, I was only able to find out the reporting lines for 38 of them, mainly through the information in FOI requests. Of those I could find, 61% report through the Finance line. There’s not enough data to determine if this is a wider trend, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

Does a CIO on the Board correlate with Digital Maturity?

Does having a CIO on the Board make a difference to the achievement of the HIMSS Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model levels 6 or 7?

  • 3 of the Trusts achieving level 6 or 7 have a CIO on the Board.
  • Of the other four, two don’t seem to have a CIO in place currently, one is an interim CIO.
Spreadsheet of 7 Trusts achieving HIMSS EMRAM Level 6 and 7

Wot no Digital Presence?

Gif of someone searching with binoculars
  • Present on LinkedIn — 90%
  • Present on Twitter — 47%
  • Personal/Hosted Blogs — 1.2%
Image of a typically blank NHS CIO LinkedIn profile
  • 9 people have not tweeted in 2020
  • 48 have tweeted less than 500 times
  • 4 are protected (private) accounts
CIO Top Tweeters Table
CIOs who blog


NHS Trust CIOs don’t have the public presence that starts to create a compelling argument for Board representation. They are hidden on many fronts. There are not enough signs of striving to apply the culture, processes, business models & technologies of the internet era to respond to people’s raised expectations. Shouldn’t the most senior tech person in a Trust be continually pushing and agitating for applying new technology and developments to solve people’s problems?

  • Update LinkedIn profiles fully, adding a photo and description of current role.
  • Sign up Digital Health networks.
  • Start engaging with Twitter, add a profile picture and include the name of host Trust in profiles. Follow the top 22 NHS CIOs Tweeters listed here. Start by committing to tweeting one personal opinion per 10 re-tweets or likes. It is personal opinion that makes the difference and adds interest and colour. Create an account with a [@[Name]CIO type handle if you feel the need to separate out your public and private life, but that’s not quite how the world works these days.
  • Put a page on the Trust website that has the tech structure and reporting line to the Board clearly defined. This will save a lot of FOI responses, it might get you a few more sales approaches, but it may also get you some great new connections.
  • Start blogging — some people create the articles using LinkedIn posts, which is a really simple way to get going. Others use services such as Blogger, Wordpress or Medium, there are loads to choose from. You are the expect on the things going on in your Trust — tell people about it, promote the article on Twitter and LinkedIn and enjoy the conversations that follow.
  • Keep up the blogging. A site with a few ancient articles doesn’t give a great impression. Some people use Weeknotes as a discipline to blog regularly. I like this article by Steve Messer on why he uses Weeknoting. This article from Jenny Vass gives plenty of encouragement and this one from Sam Villis gives you some pointers on different styles to use.
  • Start to make the argument with your Trust senior team that representation of the CIO on the Board is important for building a better NHS. And match that by upping your professionalism. Doing the same but for a bit less is not a model for the future, so you need to be ready to steer your Trust thought this change or prepare to report to someone who will.
  • And finally, comment on this research. My methodology is open, the source data is open, but my conclusions may be wrong. It would be great to hear your opinion, especially if you have different interpretations.

Research Methodology

The data used is recorded on this spreadsheet. Please flag any errors.

CIO on the Board

  1. Visit the Trust website¹, open the “About Us” or similar pages and find the list of Board of Directors
  2. Review if any of the Executive Directors are Digital/CIO type roles.
  3. I didn’t differentiate between voting and not voting members, but I did exclude those that attended Board, but were not Board members.

Name of CIO/Profile on LinkedIn/Who they report to

  1. If the CIO on the Board search has not revealed the name, then Google [Trust Name] + CIO and [Trust Name] + IT Director.
  2. This may reveal the name (search limited to page 1 of Google results). Check up on LinkedIn if available.
  3. If there was an FOI linked to CIO names/structures, I took the name and reporting line from this — most Trust FOIs seem to come from someone called Kyle Preston who made FOI requests to pretty much all Trusts during 2018 and into early 2019. I can’t find anyone called Kyle Preston who seems to match the profile of someone who would be asking for this info.

Twitter Account Check

  1. Google [Trust Name] + [CIO Name] + “Twitter” (search limited to page 1 of Google results)
  2. View Twitter page if shown.

Blog Check

  1. Google [Trust Name] + [CIO Name]
  2. Scroll down page 1 of Google results for obvious blog site. Ignored articles on Digital Health and HTN etc.



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Andy Callow

Andy Callow


Husband. Dad to 3 smashing lads. Cub Leader. MAMIL. Group CDIO for Northampton and Kettering Hospitals. Ex NHS Digital. Views own. Always learning.