NHS invests £52m to fast-track online maternity records

Announcement will ensure every NHS trust across the country is able to provide digital maternity records

Every mum-to-be will soon be able to access their maternity records on their smart phones, England’s chief nurse has announced.

NHS England and NHSX will work with maternity service providers, local maternity and neonatal systems, and integrated care systems, as well as suppliers, to develop a new digital platform for clinicians and women.

Speaking at the recent NHS Confederation Conference, chief nursing officer for England, Ruth May, said that ‘bulky paper records would soon be banished’ and that all pregnant women will be able to access information on their pregnancy on phones or other electronic devices if they choose to.

Women can also choose to keep paper records, depending on their preference.

The NHS is investing £52m to fast track its commitment to ensure that all women will have access to all of their maternity notes and information through a smartphone or other device by 2023/24.

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.

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.”

While some trusts already have some form of digital maternity records in place, the new system will be the gold standard and ensure there are no variations in the quality of the platform across the country.

NHS chief midwife, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, said: “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.”

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

Dr Simon Eccles, chief clinical information officer and deputy chief executive of NHSX, added: “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 to upgrade their maternity information systems so that records kept by different services are fully interoperable.

And, to provide national leadership in digitising maternity services, NHS England and NHSX have appointed Julia Gudgeon as the first national digital midwife.

She will work closely with Dunkley-Bent and will be a key member of NHSX’s Digital Child Health and Maternity Team which will be supporting delivery of enhanced digital services for women during their pregnancy journey.

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