England's chief nurse pledges £52M to fast track online maternity records

England’s chief nursing officer, Ruth May, has announced £52 million to transition from “bulky paper records” to cohesive digitised maternity records.

NHS England and NHSX have appointed Julia Gudgeon as the first national digital midwife to oversee the digital records and provide national leadership in digitising maternity services.

As part of the move, Gudgeon will work with NHS chief midwife Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent and be part of NHSX’s Digital Child Health and Maternity team.


The funding is part of a Long Term Plan commitment, published in January 2019, to ensure patients will have access to their maternity notes and information electronically by 2023/24.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation Conference last month, May said: “Giving women easy access to their maternity records, whether on a smart phone or online, allows them to take full control of their pregnancy journey by having all the information and decisions about their care at their fingertips.

“Midwives, GPs, and other clinicians caring for a pregnant woman will also have easy access to information, no matter where or when the mum-to-be is seen.

“Not only will this help improve the experience for women by reducing the burden of repeating information to each healthcare professional that they see throughout their pregnancy, but it will also improve safety. It will help us to ensure the best health and care outcomes by preventing important details from being missed.”


This news follows April’s announcement that England’s personal child health records will be digitised by April 2023. The move was brought forward a year following a government review to reduce health inequalities for babies and children.

The change will encourage designing digital, virtual and telephone services around the needs of the family, including digitising the personal child health record, commonly referred to as the ‘red book’.


NHS chief midwife, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, said: “The records will allow women to easily access data about their pregnancy as well as curated information about wider issues around pregnancy in order to make well-informed decisions.

“As we continue to implement the NHS Long Term Plan, it is right that digital maternity is being fast-tracked so that women, as well as midwives and their colleagues, across the country will get the support they need to deliver the best start in life for every child.”

Dr Simon Eccles, chief clinical information officer and deputy chief executive of NHSX, said: “Ensuring that every pregnant woman and all the clinicians caring for her can see the same crucial health information about their own care and unborn child is essential.

“That is why we are prioritising this work to put shared maternity records in all parts of the country as quickly as possible.”

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