NHS trust

The role of digital in Coventry and Warwickshire’s maternity system strategy

The role of digital features as a key workstream in the five-year strategy to “transform and sustain improvement in maternity and neonatal services” across the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Maternity and Neonatal System (CWLMNS).

CWLMNS has “embedded co-production” by creating specific cross-system workstreams to target specific themes, with each workstream aiming to address particular inequalities and develop an action plan to tackle them. One of these workstreams focuses on digital strategy, with the key focuses in this area revolving around improving patient data and tackling digital exclusion.

Improving patient data

One of the key interventions shared in the strategy centres around the effective recording of patient information, particularly risk factors related to ethnicity, BMI and co-morbidities in pregnant women.

The strategy highlights the role of the Maternity Services Data Set (MSDS), a patient-level data set that captures information and activity carried out by Maternity Services relating to a mother and baby. The system has identified that “further work is needed within maternity units to promote the recording of data of maternity systems at booking, to ensure this is reflected in the MSDS data. This includes data that can be regularly extracted, reported and audited through the Quality and Safety workstream.”

At present, the strategy notes, all trusts involved in the system use specific maternity digital systems which record ethnicity, risk factors and risk assessments and allow extraction of this data for reporting purposes. It explains that across the system, the trusts are looking to move to a single EPR, with the LMNS working with the ICS Digital Transformation Board “to ensure that there are assurances this data can be extracted following go live.”

Mitigating against digital exclusion 

The strategy emphasises how the NHS Long Term Plan calls for integrated care systems to implement personalised support plans (PCSPs) in maternity services. In order to ensure population-wide accessibility, it adds, PCSPs need to be available in different formats, including digital and hard copies for those who may experience digital exclusion. A recent and ongoing action for the system has been to follow through on this and ensure that PCSPs are available in a variety of formats to “support women to make decisions about the care and support she wants”. A working group is to be set up with the aim of developing an action plan to support implementation, including tackling challenges around digital and non-digital access along with recording of data.

In addition, the strategy states: “A greater level of work is needed to ensure that post-natal care management plans are being discussed and documented. The digital workstream is also supporting this work to help develop solutions when access to digital tools is difficult for women.”

As such, the system will conduct a review of non-digital information to support women with limited access to digital tools. They aim to ensure that digital tools or information on digital systems supporting choice are made widely accessible, and available in appropriate languages and formats.

The strategy goes on to note that as part of their digital programme, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust have “procured several tablets which can be loaned out to women who don’t have access to the internet on any current device.”

Meanwhile, at South Warwickshire University Foundation Trust in particular, personalised care plans have been embedded into their new electronic self-referral system which launched in February 2022. The system will be able to provide data for the breakdowns of ethnicity and deprivation, providing insight into areas of inequality.

As parts of further efforts to support digital access, George Eliot Hospital Trust will be implementing workstations on wheels in communal areas to provide easy access for service users in the community.

Looking ahead, the strategy highlights a way in which the system can improve communication between care services and more marginalised groups through digital means. It suggests that existing communication mediums (both digital and physical) should be used to share information, such as the Ukrainian newsletter produced by Coventry City Council.

In order to find out more about the maternity and neonatal strategy, click here.