National Competency Framework News

The Data Profession is Coming – The National Competency Framework and Professional Accreditation.

National Competency Framework for Data Professionals in Health and Care Launch 2nd October 2023

As a result of the standardisation the National Competency Framework creates, Professor Marc Farr spoke of “wall of 13,500 people [data professionals in health and care] standing behind you when you push back and say ‘no, this is what the figures say'”

Of the problem, Andi Orlowski said “rather than being asked to make data led decisions, we are being asked to produce decision led data”

Of the conference Rachel McIlroy (Senior Programme Lead at NHS England) said “If you can be photographed grinning at a conference then you know you’re having a great time! So fantastic to see the launch of the #ncf – incredible work and can’t wait to see it used to help shape the workforce needs”

“What a fantastic day, so powerful being in the room with so many individuals, teams and organisations who care about the development and professionalisation of analysts.” Andrew Barraclough, Head of Quality, Safety and Improvement Analysis at Nottingham University Hospital

Conor Price, Managing Director of Primary Care Analytics, “What an insightful and inspirational day at AphA Analysts Annual conference, launching the National Competency Framework for Analysts. Great speakers and a real buzz through the Analyst Community”

On Monday 2nd October, the National Competency Framework for Data Professionals in Health and Care
(NCF) was launched at the annual conference for the Association of Professional Healthcare Analysts
(AphA) in the Hilton Hotel at Stoke-on-Trent. With over 200 delegates from a wide range of health and
care organisations throughout the UK present, the NCF has been created to standardise the working
practices of data professionals with a view to raise their professional status away from the current generally
accepted “admin” job group, to a sector recognised in its right as a profession. With most roles taking a
minimum of three years to fully grasp and often requiring post-graduate qualifications, the mood from
delegates that this move was long, long overdue.

The NCF had been created with funding from NHS England from which AphA conducted a landscape
review which recommended the creation of a single framework for the whole community to standardise.
This then led to a small consultancy, Davies Furlong Consulting (DFC), in conjunction with AphA and
NHSE, developing the framework through a national DFC engagement strategy which saw 100
organisations participate and over 400 data professionals. The resultant testing of the framework showed
that all these parties felt that the final output was as good or better than any other framework they had ever
used. Considering the initial landscape review identified over 40 frameworks in use at that time, this was
no small achievement. This sentiment was continued throughout the conference will all delegates being
overwhelmingly engaged and even excited by the prospect of rolling out the framework.

The conference brought together speakers including Ming Tang (Head of Profession, NHS England), Andi
Orlowski (Director, Health Economics Unit and AphA President), Professor Marc Farr (CDO at Kent and
Medway ICB and East Kent Hospitals NHS FT), Emma Wright (Director, Northern Care Alliance and Head
of Professional Development, AphA), Professor Martin Pitt (University of Exeter and PenCORD), and
Sarah Blundell (Professionalisation Lead, NHS England) along with another 20 contributors to panel
discussions and Early Adopter representatives, and all hosted by Huw Davies, Director of Davies Furlong
Consulting and Rony Arafin, CEO of AphA and Director of Insights at the British Heart Foundation.
As pointed out by Andi Orlowski, and by others throughout the day, a data professional can save more
lives through insightful analysis than any anaesthetist. The NHS has, unfortunately, developed a lack of
understanding around data where operational leaders do not understand how vital the accuracy of data is.
The NCF, and the whole professionalisation agenda, is crucial, according to Marc Farr, in order to create a
“wall of 13,500 people [data professionals in health and care] standing behind you when you push back
and say ‘no, this is what the figures say’“thus preventing a situation as described by Andi Orlowski
whereby, “rather than making data led decisions, we are being asked to produce decision led data”.

With AphA, under the umbrella of the Federation of Informatics Professionals (FedIP), accrediting the
standards of the profession through professional registration, the ‘stick’ (in the words of Ruth Holland,
Deputy Director at Imperial College Healthcare NHS FT) for ensuring best practice can be managed
through the professional body and the carrot of continuous professional development can be maintained
through the NCF. Allied with the creation of a user’s and manager’s toolkit, incorporating “what good looks
like”, the NCF has created the conditions for showing the data profession to be the wall of knowledge that it
should be, hopefully eradicating unethical manipulation of facts, developing the careers of professionals
and, at last, enabling the workforce to spend more time on advanced intelligence that will really ensure that
“data saves lives”.

In the words of Rony Arafin (CEO, AphA), “Advanced AI is nothing without the people who are powering it.
Analytics is Science.” (

There will be a further tranche of training from Capita that is paid for by NHSE as an introduction to the
framework. For a more bespoke and detailed package from introduction and modular training through to
the development and execution of an implementation strategy, please contact the Director of Davies
Furlong Consulting, Huw Davies, at