NHS England and Improvement’s Digital Maternity Fund has awarded 128 bids funding to support the digitisation of maternity services across England.
Some of the trusts to secure funding include Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS FT who have been awarded £208,000, Birmingham Women’s Hospital awarded £500,000, and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust over £800,000.
In South Tees, the funding is planned to improve infrastructure systems and connectivity, roll-out of a maternity electronic patient record system and implement supporting apps for the service.
Meanwhile, in partnership with the Great North Care Record team at Newcastle Hospitals and County Durham CCG, the North East and North Cumbria Local Maternity and Neonatal System has been awarded £100,000 to improve its digital maternity capabilities. This includes funding to support how care records are shared, starting this spring to connect maternity care records to the Great North Care Record’s Health Information Exchange and to the regional laboratory system, Sunquest ICE.
As part of this initiative, funding will also be used to develop a digital roadmap to help other Local Maternity and Neonatal Systems.
Professor Stephen Robson, obstetric lead for the LMNS and consultant obstetrician, said: “Patients move around the system and currently data captured is in siloes. These changes form part of our wider regional digital strategy that will allow us to start linking the data captured at the point of care to generate insights and learn more about outcomes as patients transition across the system. A Learning Health System is about using knowledge and data to implement improvements to the way care is provided, using clear evidence from the data captured to inform decision making.”
In Bedfordshire, the funding will be used to help make data collection more consistent, and improve connectivity. Emma Hardwick, Director of Midwifery at Bedfordshire Hospitals, said: “This funding will make it easier for our midwives and health professionals to collect and share information and data with each other and with the women, birthing people and families in their care. Improvements in technology will help release midwifery time to focus on delivering maternity care.”
In Birmingham and Solihull, the Local Maternity and Neonatal System will use the funding to design and develop new iterations of its patient facing application, with an aim to deliver improvements for non-English speaking patients. It also plans to understand digital barriers and poverty that constrain women from accessing their records.
Ruth Cavey-Wilcox, Digital Midwife at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, said: “Our Local Maternity and Neonatal System provides care for some of the most diverse communities in the country, and also some of the poorest. Overcoming barriers to those women who do not have easy access to their information is crucial if we are going to keep improving the care that they receive. This funding will help us to improve the experience for both patients and our staff, as well as patient safety.”
Jules Gudgeon, National Digital Midwife Lead for Maternity – NHSEI, commented on the Digital Maternity Fund, to say: “With this funding we are one step closer to interoperable record sharing, regardless of location or system used, for the benefit of women and pregnant people and the clinicians caring for them.”