New standard for maternity care now live

A new standard has been published to support the introduction of digital maternity records that will ensure that record information is consistent and can be shared more easily across healthcare services in England in the future.

As part of the national plans to improve maternity services, the NHS is changing the way information is shared between women, their midwives, doctors and other members of the health care team. The first step in this process is to standardise the information held in digital maternity records.

Once implemented, the new standard will enable improved information exchange between IT systems and services across England. This will save time for health care professionals and women by ensuring they have the necessary information, in the right place at the right time, to make decisions for safer care.

The new guidance builds on the Healthy Child Record standard, published by the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB) in October 2017.

Together these new standards provide a seamless pathway for maternal and newborn care. This will enable midwives and clinicians to provide all-round care for women and their babies, and mothers will be able to manage their own health and that of their child more easily in future.

The standard has been developed by the PRSB and NHS Digital, with support from the Royal College of Physicians’ Health Informatics Unit. It has been informed by the views of midwives, obstetricians, mothers and other professionals to ensure the right information is included.

Dr Karen Selby, PRSB’s representative from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists provided clinical leadership on the project.

Dr Selby said: “Creating standards for digital exchange of health information is a significant step forward in supporting the work of the maternity transformation programme. It is a great example of collaborative working, as health professionals and women have all been involved in creating the standard.”

Nic Fox, Director of Primary and Social Care Technology at NHS Digital said: “This has been a great example of collaboration between organisations. 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.”

Mandy Forrester, Head of Quality and Standards at the Royal College of Midwives, said the new standard will support better continuity of care. “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. 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: “’Electronic red books’ give mums more convenient access to vital information about their baby and help NHS and healthcare workers to provide effective care. Developing national standards is a critical step forward to the wider introduction of these digital maternity records.”

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