Chief Nursing Officer for England Ruth May - announced yesterday during the NHS Confederation Conference – that all pregnant woman will be able to access their maternity records on their electronic devices. This is part of the aim to move away from using paper. Women will however, be able to keep paper records if they prefer.
The NHS will invest £52m into the project, putting the NHS ahead of the targets set out in the Long Term Plan. It will ensure that all women have access to all of their maternity notes and information by 2023/24.
Although other trusts also have digital maternity record systems in place, the new system will provide coherence across the country, ensuring there aren’t any variations in the quality of the platform.
Ms May said: “Giving women easy access to their maternity records, whether on a smart phone or online, allows them to take full control of their pregnancy journey by having all the information and decisions about their care at their fingertips.
“Midwives, GPs, and other clinicians caring for a pregnant woman will also have easy access to information, no matter where or when the mum-to-be is seen.
“Not only will this help improve the experience for women by reducing the burden of repeating information to each healthcare professional that they see throughout their pregnancy, but it will also improve safety.
“It will help us to ensure the best health and care outcomes by preventing important details from being missed.”
NHS Chief Midwife Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent added: “The records will allow women to easily access data about their pregnancy as well as curated information about wider issues around pregnancy in order to make well-informed decisions.
“As we continue to implement the NHS Long Term Plan, it is right that digital maternity is being fast-tracked so that women, as well as midwives and their colleagues, across the country will get the support they need to deliver the best start in life for every child.”
The new platform will be a collaborative effort between NHS England and NHSX, who will work with maternity service providers, local maternity and neonatal systems and integrated care systems, as well as suppliers, to provide the best platform for clinicians and women.
Dr Simon Eccles, Chief Clinical Information Officer and Deputy Chief Executive of NHSX, said: “Ensuring that every pregnant woman and all the clinicians caring for her can see the same crucial health information about their own care and unborn child is essential.
“That is why we are prioritising this work to put shared maternity records in all parts of the country as quickly as possible.”
Healthcare providers will be supported in order to make sure maternity information systems are upgraded, so that records stored by different services are fully interoperable.
NHSX have also appointed Julia Gudgeon as the first national digital midwife to develop national leadership in digitising maternity services.
Julia will work alongside NHS Ms Dunkley-Bent and be a key member of NHSX’s Digital Child Health and Maternity Team, supporting the delivery of enhanced digital services for women during their pregnancy.