The Scottish Government has confirmed to Digital Health News that its ‘Cloud First’ digital health strategy has been delayed following a recent budget review and settlement.

Scotland’s Digital Health and Care Delivery Plan 2024-25 states that direction and guidelines on maximising use of existing digital infrastructure taking a Cloud First approach when appropriate, was due in March 2024 but has been delayed.

The Cloud First strategy is intended to encourage and support public sector bodies to use cloud services and realise the benefits of cloud computing by focusing on sharing information and knowledge.

This aims to “increase resilience and access to performant, modern, integrated applications” and future proof the digital landscape.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government told Digital Health News that the delay to reflects the recent Scottish budget review and settlement published on 1 February 2024.

“We are committed to progressing the Digital Health and Care Delivery Plan 2024-25 and are making progress despite the health and social care challenges due to Covid and the fiscal environment.

“The deliverables and their agreed timescales set out in the strategy reflect the recent budget review and settlement,” the spokesperson said.

The Cloud First approach, they said, will be taken forward through the Technical Design Authority (TDA), which was established in February 2024 to provide assurance on the development of the blueprint for Scotland’s digital and data systems.

“This will predominantly focus on how the principles set out in the Scottish Government’s Cloud First Strategy can and should be applied to the health and care systems landscape when introducing new systems or replacing or updating existing ones,” they added.

The Scottish Government oversees the digital health and care strategy with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

A COSLA spokesperson told Digital Health News that the current financial context provides “extreme challenges” for both national and local government.

They added that the Cloud First strategy is “aimed at getting off on-premise solutions and onto the cloud for both new and legacy tech over time.

“The directions and guidelines (to be developed by TDA) are to set out how we will do this, and to push for getting roadmaps for all of our systems. This will allow us to make progress on changing our infrastructure etc,” they said.

In England there has been a shift towards moving data to the cloud. NHS England confirmed to Digital Health News in January 2024 that all its physical data centres have been decommissioned following the successful move of NHS Spine to the cloud.