NHS launches new service that hopes to make parents’ Red Book digital

Profile picture for user ddpreez By Derek du Preez April 16, 2019
NHS Digital is working with IT suppliers to make child health information more easily accessible and further progress plans for a digital red book.

Image of a baby in someone’s hand
NHS Digital and NHS England have released details of a new service, dubbed the National Events Management Service, which allows parents and NHS staff to securely receive information about a child’s health digitally. It is hoped that the service will be adopted by NHS organisations nationally to help further progress the availability of a digital Red Book for new parents.

A Personal Child Health Record - also known as the ‘Red Book’ - is given to all parents following the birth of their child and is used to record the child’s weight, height, vaccinations and other health information. Currently parents and staff input information manually and parents are requested to bring the book with them to all appointments with health professionals. It is hoped that a digital version that is accessible by all will be made available in future.

In 2016, NHS England published ‘Healthy Children: Transforming Child Health Information, guidance which focused on the exchange of child health information to improve care and the interoperability of systems to enable this.

The newly announced National Events Management Service has initially launched in North East London in partnership with North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) and their health visiting and child health services. NHS Digital has collaborated with IT suppliers - including System C, Servelec and Sitekit - to connect their systems to the new service.

According to NHS Digital it implements a near real-time message exchange sending birth notifications, change of address and change of GP practice details. Data is also forwarded to a digital ‘Red Book’ offered to parents as an alternative to the current paper book.

Commenting on the first week's live running, David Pike, Programme Manager at NELFT, said:

“The results so far have been very encouraging. Within the first couple of days we achieved a 20% increase in the timeliness of new birth notifications from out of area maternity units, enabling our health visitors to see new families sooner.

“We also received 2000 address changes on the first day, which means we're picking up children new to NELFT services much quicker; ensuring those children moving out of area are rapidly notified to their new service provider. Based on these early improvements, we expect to be targeting health resources much more accurately in the coming year.”

New information standards for the Healthy Child Programme were also released by the Professional Records Standards Body last year, which NHS Digital states was a “key step” in providing interoperability between systems.

It adds that the scope of the new service will evolve over time, working in conjunction with other local and national services, to support the availability of NHS-held clinical information to parents via digital red books.

Suppliers are being urged to contact NHS Digital regarding the National Events Management Service for more information.

Martin Dennys, Programme Manager for Digital Child Health at NHS Digital said:

“Child health information is currently held across a number of different information systems across the UK.

“The National Events Management Service supports the communication between these systems and is an important milestone in the journey to deliver more personalised, responsive and integrated services to families and children.

“We now look forward to supporting suppliers in rolling the service out more widely.”

We have seen a recent push from the NHS to integrate disparate systems so that healthcare providers can insight into information that could support the efficiency and experience of the NHS nationally. Earlier this week, for example, NHS England announced the launch of ‘Capacity Tracker’, a digital “shop window” for health and social care staff that are looking for vacancies in care homes, which traditionally requires manual processes such as phoning up individual homes to see if space is available.

The NHS, working with councils, reduced the number of lost bed days by 20% between 2017 and last year, and by making the new Capacity Tracker tool more widely available, it hopes to reduce unnecessary delays leaving hospital still further.

The launch of the tool forms part of the NHS’s recently published Long Term Plan for the health service. Part of this includes an aim to ‘do things differently’ and making better use of data and digital technology.

The NHS has also recently launched a central digital organisation – dubbed NHSX – which focuses on open standards, interoperability, user-led design and a cloud first approach. Matthew Gould, currently Director General for Digital Media and Sport, has been appointed CEO of NHSX and it is thought that spend controls will be introduced to help the organisation drive change across the NHS.