What the Scottish and Welsh Governments’ Digital Health and Care Strategies means for Jobs

The Scottish and Welsh Governments have recently published their digital health and care strategies, outlining how they will deliver health and care strategies in the future through the use of technology and data. Here we look more closely at the details of those strategies and how they will impact jobs within Data, Digital and Technology.

The Scottish digital health and care strategy

The core aims of the Scottish digital health and care strategy are threefold: 

  • Giving Scottish citizens better access to and control of their own data

  • Helping staff record and share information, system-wide

  • Providing planners, researchers and innovators with the data they need to enhance efficiency and to develop better ways of working. 

The plan is split into seven key areas:

  1. Access – the Scottish Government wants to ensure that people can digitally access their own data and services.

  2. Services – the priority is to make digital options ‘increasingly available’ for both patients and staff. It aims to scale up the current remote health monitoring Connect Me service, develop further the Digital Hospital @ Home initiative, and deliver new digital products and solutions into the social care sphere.

  3. Foundations – ensuring that the ‘infrastructure, systems, regulations, standards and governance’ are in place to boost security including a new GP IT system hosted by a single cloud solution, a new public Scottish Wide Area Network, and give GPs the ability to prescribe and dispense digitally.

  4. Skills – boosting digital skills so that they become core skills, through a new MSc in Leading Digital Transformation in Health and Care.

  5. Leaderships – refreshing leadership skills in digital and data, and developing specialist digital, data and technology workforces.

  6. Innovation –widening knowledge exchange funding opportunities, collaborating with international stakeholders, delivering data tools to automate and improve theatre scheduling, and adopting a national approach to the use of AI-based tools, products and services.

  7. Data – prioritising the harnessing of data for the benefits of Scottish citizens, as well as services and innovation, a plan to deliver data which sets out priorities outlined in Scotland’s Health and Social Care Data Strategy

  8. Insights – improving the collection and quality of ethnicity data to support equitable care, and developing a national approach to information governance.

The Welsh Strategy

The Welsh Government says that its aims for its Digital and Data Strategy for Health and Social Care are:

  • To transform digital skills and partnerships

  • To build digital platforms that meet the needs of the Welsh people

  • To make services digital-first.

In order to achieve this, the Government has committed to six ‘missions’. They are:

  1. Digital skills – giving Welsh Health and Social Care workers skills and confidence to utilise digital services so that care improves

  2. Digital economy – partnering with health and social care providers, universities and private organisations to add value, speed up innovation and strengthen Wales’s economy

  3. Data and collaboration – ensuring high-quality data can inform every aspect of the delivery of health and social care, and to support digital services

  4. Digital infrastructure and connectivity – developing a secure and sustainable solution for the sharing of data to create agile digital services

  5. User-centred services – delivering high quality digital services that are designed to support the needs of Welsh citizens and healthcare professionals

  6. Digital inclusion – equipping users with the necessary skills and confidence to access the digital health and social care services they need or require.

Key messages

In both the Scottish and the Welsh documents the emphasis is on empowering people, both staff and patients, to have the confidence, the ability and the technology to improve healthcare across the two countries. 

The amounts of money that are mentioned in the document to achieve these aims is notable. Scotland has committed £2 million for its Digital Inclusion Programme, and a further £20 million to its National Framework for Surgical Robots. Wales has broken down the figures into 27 projects which amount to around £315 million. 


Jobs are mentioned only two times in the Scottish plans – the first in relation to the adoption of new technology which will create new jobs, and the second, quite specifically, states that the Abertay cyberQuarter, Dundee, also known as the Cyber Security Centre of Excellence, will create 40 skilled jobs in the cybersecurity industry.

In Wales, the emphasis is more on upskilling the existing workforce to enable them to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently via a range of digital tools and services. 


In Scotland’s proposals training is emphasised in relation to Scotland’s Cyber Security Centre of Excellence which, it maintains, will be supported by ‘key enablement pillars’ such as incident response, threat hunting and training. 

Training is also mentioned in respect of the proposed Microsoft 365 Roll Out, integrating the health and social care workforces by enhancing communication, collaboration and information sharing, for which training courses will be offered.

In Wales, training is referred to in more depth, and the Welsh Government acknowledge the importance of effective training for digital skills, improving digital literacy and confidence in new technology. Partnerships with the commercial sector and academia are mentioned, to prepare for the creation of a ‘digital ready workforce’, and targeted recruitment is mentioned as a priority.

The Government in Wales specifically states that it intends to partner with Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW), Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW), Intensive Learning Academies Wales (ILA), Social Care Wales, and the Wales Institute of Digital Information (WIDI) to develop digital skills across the nation through development programmes for future talent. In addition a programme of broad-based digital skills training, which can be tailored to employees’ individual needs will also be implemented. 

A new digital health and social care apprenticeship will also be supported, bringing through digital, cyber and data talent from higher educational establishments, and which, it is hoped, will attract even more new talent to the sector.

Mandatory training and refresher courses in information governance training and cyber security awareness skills will also be implemented to support ‘Better health and social care outcomes through faster and more effective digital services’, and clinical staff will be upskilled in clinical skills training, eLearning, professional competencies and service improvements. 

The future

These proposals, while laudable, commendable and vital in today’s digital landscape will, however, require not only effort and resources, but also the training capabilities and the staffing levels in order to achieve them. Currently the population of Wales stands at 3,107,500. There are over 105,000 staff working in the NHS in Wales, including 84,134 working within social care. Scotland has a population of 5,479,900, with 182,000 staff working for the NHS there, 134,640 of them specialising in social care. This all means that a lot of training will need to take place – some talent will need to be recruited and some of it will be from outside providers. The requirements for training this number of staff will clearly present opportunities for digital, data and cyber specialists from not only within Scotland and the Principality but also from around the UK, and perhaps even beyond. The potential for Wales and Scotland to become the Data, Digital and Technology training hubs of the UK, providing essential services for the future of the NHS there, is huge.
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