The funding from NHSEI will enable maternity units across England to introduce electronic patient records or to share maternity data
"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." Ruth Cavey-Wilcox, digital midwife at Birmingham Women’s Hospital
A total of 128 NHS trusts have been awarded funding from NHS England and Improvement’s Digital Maternity Fund to roll out the digitisation of maternity services.
Maternity services have traditionally lagged behind in digitisation, with many trusts still requiring women to carry their notes to appointments. The fund will help many trusts introduce electronic records for patients and to collect and share maternity data.
One of the trusts to receive funding is South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which has been awarded more than £800,000 to improve infrastructure systems and connectivity, roll-out a maternity electronic patient record (EPR) and implement supporting apps for the service.
Other trusts to receive money include Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which has been awarded £208,000 and Birmingham Women’s Hospital, which has been awarded £500,000. 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 that the funding would “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.”
The North East and North Cumbria Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS), in partnership with the Great North Care Record team at Newcastle Hospitals and County Durham CCG, has been awarded £100,000 to digitise maternity services. Some of the funding will be spent on making it easier to share care records, which will include connecting them to the Great North Care Record’s Health Information Exchange and to the regional laboratory system, Sunquest ICE.
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.”
At Birmingham Women’s Hospital, the Local Maternity and Neonatal System will use the funding to design and develop new versions of its app for patients, including improvements for non-English speaking patients. It also plans to understand digital barriers and poverty that prevent 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.”