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New guidelines published for move towards digital maternity records across England

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Plans to digitalise all maternity records in England have taken a step forward with the publication of new guidelines to ensure data is consistent and can be shared seamlessly between care providers.

The template was created by Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB) drawing on the views of midwives, mothers and other professionals to make sure the right information was included.

“The maternity record standard will ensure consistent maternity records”

Nic Fox

Once implemented, the standard will enable a smooth exchange of information between healthcare professionals, because records will be compatible with all IT systems across England, according to the PRSB.

Similar guidelines for child health records were published by the PRSB in October last year.

The work, conducted in partnership with NHS Digital and the Royal College of Physicians’ Health Informatics Unit, is part of the government’s commitment to improve maternity services under the Maternity Transformation Plan.

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Mandy Forrester, head of quality and standards at the Royal College of Midwives, said making records paperless would improve safety for pregnant women and allow for better continuity of care. 

She said: “This will help to make care safer as clinicians will have access to key information about the woman, such as existing medical problems.

“It should also avoid the need for women to repeat information to different clinicians during their pregnancy journey,” she said. “This is a positive step and one that we welcome.”

Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, head of maternity, children and young people at NHS England, said developing national standards was a “critical step forward” in the introduction digital maternity records. 

jacqueline dunkley bent cropped

jacqueline dunkley bent cropped

Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent

Nic Fox, director of primary and social care technology at NHS Digital, said: “The maternity record standard will ensure consistent maternity records which will lay the foundation for interoperable exchange of information throughout the care pathway of the woman, regardless of location and systems in use.”

The standards have been released in the same week that the RCM published its latest analysis on the state of maternity services – State of Maternity Services Report.

Among the finding of the report was that the NHS in England was losing 29 midwives for every one it gained and that services were being put under extra pressure by a rise in older and overweight mothers requiring more complex care.

 

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