The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has launched a new positioning statement to call for a Digital Midwife in every maternity service in the next 12 months.
The trade union, which represents the majority of practising midwives, has called for every trust to recruit or train Digital Midwives to lead on digital transformation programmes and ensure systems that are introduced are interoperable.
The RCM has said it’s not just a call for investment but a need to ‘drive forward digital transformation and clinical informatics of maternity care’.
Hermione Jackson, RCM Digital Advisor, said: “For too long maternity services have been overlooked, passed over and generally left at the back of the queue when it comes to digital investment. Investing in digital technology and giving staff the training and equipment they need will lead to better care, regardless of where that care is delivered.
“There is clear evidence that more and better use of digital technology is supported by women, midwives, maternity support workers and other maternity staff. We need the Government and hospital Trusts and Boards to give maternity services the tech they need to do their jobs even better. Improvements have been happening but at a snail’s pace and we need to see this move much more rapidly simply to catch-up with other areas of the NHS.”
The RCM said it will be publishing new guidance on electronic record keeping for midwives and maternity support workers later in March.
In a recent letter to Parliament, the trade union referenced the digital progress in maternity services over the past 12 months and the need to continue the momentum. They said: “Our experience of how the NHS has functioned during the national lockdown shows us that the NHS can embrace more technology and that it can improve care. This is the moment for the NHS to take forward the digital agenda, and maternity care is a perfect candidate for any such initiative.
“We recommend that within the next 12 months every maternity service has a Digital Midwife in post, and where a trust is large a team of Digital Midwives may be required to drive forward digital transformation and clinical informatics of maternity care.
“Systems must be able to speak to each other, otherwise the potential benefits of digitalisation are lost. The RCM therefore recommends that the clinical workflow and women’s journey through the maternity system is considered and interoperability is utilised as standard with all IT systems to reduce duplication and data silos.”
The body also recommends that all maternity systems undertake a digital skills audit to identify midwives learning needs and to make training available where needed.
Currently, three trusts have vacancies open for digital midwives; The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust and Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust.
Over the past few months HTN has reported on various trusts’ digital transformation within maternity services. NHS Tayside went paperless with maternity notes using technology from BadgerNet. The free specialist maternity notes app from BadgerNet replaced paper notes to support pregnant women and midwives in Tayside access the notes online.
While earlier this month a digital maternity triage system, developed in the West Midlands, launched an online training programme that is now available to maternity teams across the UK. The Birmingham Symptom-specific Obstetric Triage System (BSOTS) was created to provide a ‘standardised method of safely and efficiently assessing women’, particularly those who are having unexpected problems.
And last month, Liverpool Women’s NHS FT went live with ‘My Pregnancy Notes’, for all women to be have access to their maternity notes online. This new online service included access to a personalised care plan, appointment details, information, certificates and a notes section to include questions for appointments.