NHS to invest £52 million to fast track online maternity records

Every mum to be will be able to access their maternity records on their smart phones, England’s Chief Nurse announced today.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation Conference, Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May, said “bulky paper records would soon be banished” and pregnant women will be able to access information on their pregnancy at their fingertips 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 £52 million to fast track its Long Term Plan commitment to ensure that all women will have access to all of their maternity notes and information through a smart phone or other device by 2023/24.

Chief Nursing Officer for England Ruth 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.”

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

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.”

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 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 to upgrade their maternity information systems so that records kept by different services are fully interoperable.

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

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