NHS set to invest £52 million in fast-tracking online maternity records

Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May, has announced that the NHS will invest £52 million to help speed-up the implementation of online maternity records.

The investment aims to ensure that all women can have access to their maternity notes and information via either a smartphone or other device, by 2023/24.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation Conference, May said that “bulky paper records would soon be banished” – but that women would be able to choose and keep paper records, if they prefer.

On its website, NHS England wrote that the new system will be “the gold standard” and help to ensure consistency and quality across the country. NHS England and NHSX will work with maternity service providers, local maternity and neonatal systems, integrated care systems, and suppliers, to develop the platform.

May said of the development: “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.”

Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, NHS Chief Midwife, added: “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.”

Dr Simon Eccles, Chief Clinical Information Officer and Deputy Chief Executive of NHSX, also 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.”

After recruiting for a new national digital midwife earlier this year, NHS England and NHSX have since appointed Julia Gudgeon to the position. She will work with Dunkley-Bent as part of of NHSX’s Digital Child Health and Maternity Team, which will support the delivery of digital services for pregnant women.

The investment news is also part of a wider enthusiasm for digital pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal support, with developments including calls from the Royal College of Midwives for a digital midwife at every maternity service, as well as new electronic record keeping guidance for maternity staff.