The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on the nation’s first data strategy for health and care.

The online questionnaire, which opened yesterday, will gather views on how data should be used, stored and managed across health and social care.

Feedback will help shape the development of Scotland’s new data strategy for health and social care, due for publication later this year, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of the population through “innovative, collaborative, and ethical use of data”.

The strategy comes after a “dramatic shift” in how data is used within health and care over the past two years.

The coronavirus pandemic saw a rise in the number of Scots accessing data on Public Health Scotland’s website – the organisation revealed it went from receiving a “few hundred views” on its yearly, quarterly or monthly publications, to over 80,000 views of its Covid daily dashboard in 24 hours.

And according to the Scottish Government’s health secretary, there is now an increasing amount of health data being gathered by individuals through wearable devices, smart scales and other technology.

He said people are showing a “greater desire” to have a say in how their data is used and shared as well as playing an active role in looking after their own health and wellbeing.

Announcing the opening of the consultation, Humza Yousaf said that the use of data to drive the delivery of high quality services is close to his heart.

He said: “This Data Strategy will serve to enhance already trusted services delivered by health and social care across Scotland and will continue to look at the ethical and transparent use of data. It will also seek to further empower innovation and research using health and social care data.”

The consultation builds on work which started in 2019 exploring people in Scotland’s opinions and ideas for the use and sharing of health and social care data.

Urging the public to complete the survey, Mr Yousaf said: “We are developing a data strategy for health and social care with the primary aim of empowering the people of Scotland and your voices matter. The strategy has the potential to position Scotland as an internationally recognised country for carrying out data driven research and innovation.

“We value the contributions from everyone receiving, delivering, and improving health and social care services across the country. Together we will develop a meaningful data strategy that empowers greater use of data to continuously improve the services we provide in health and social care.”

The 10-page consultation, which is split into three parts, each aimed at different users and beneficiaries of data, will close on 12 August.