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New parents in London to receive ‘online red book’

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From this month, parents of the 136,000 babies born across London each year will be able to record and manage information about their child’s health and development online.

On Friday, NHS England announced that a digital version of the red book would be rolled out across London, in response to calls from parents who have lost information when papers were misplaced.

“Parents rightly expect the NHS to offer the technology they use in their day to day lives”

Sarah-Jane Marsh

The e-Redbook, a digital version of the red book will be introduced across the capital, with the aim of making it quicker and easier for new parents to view and manage health records.

The initiative was announced by NHS England on Friday, as part of its national Next Steps on the NHS Five-Year Forward View strategy.

The eRedbook will allow new parents and health professionals to remotely access and enter information from anywhere with an internet connection – through a desktop, tablet or smartphone.

Women will be able to access the eRedbook on an app from when they are 28 weeks pregnant, rather than waiting until their baby is born, which NHS England said would allow them to become familiar with it earlier.

The digital initiative is being delivered collaboratively by NHS England, Sitekit and NHS Digital. It has been previously piloted in Newham, Greenwich, Kingston, Inner North West London and Barnet.

As well as traditional information on immunisations, weight/height charts, developmental firsts and important contacts, it also contains links to relevant videos and local information sources.

Other features include:

  • Important questions for health visit – parents are encouraged to record any questions they may have for the health visitor or other professional, ensuring that the health visit is as efficient as possible and that parents receive the information they require to care for their child
  • Automatic plotting on weight & growth charts – both parents and health professionals can use the digital charts to plot new data on the weight and growth of a child. The digital charts are less error-prone than paper charts, as data is plotted automatically, including the pre-term correction
  • Appointment updates and reminders – this reduces the number of missed appointments, saving cost for the NHS and improving immunisation uptake. It also has the potential to replace the paper appointment letters that the NHS sends out, as this information can be distributed digitally

Sarah-Jane Marsh, chair of NHS England’s Maternity Transformation Programme Board, said: “In an increasingly digital world, parents rightly expect the NHS to offer the technology they use in their day to day lives, and the eRedbook is an excellent example of how we are working with other NHS organisations in London to make this expectation a reality.

“Parents will feel more confident and have a greater understanding of their baby’s healthcare needs, including their vaccinations and major milestones, and will always have vital information about their child’s health available at the touch of a button,” she added.

An NHS England spokeswoman confirmed to Nursing Times that parents in London would still have the choice of receiving the paper version.

She added that existing parents of children under 12 months old would be able to register retrospectively with the scheme from June. However, she said she could not yet provide information on any plans to expand the scheme beyond the capital.

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