PRSB launches new maternity care standard

  1. As part of the national plans to improve maternity services in England, the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB) has published a new standard to support the introduction of the digital maternity record. It aims to maintain consistency in the way information is recorded, ensuring that it can be shared more easily across healthcare services

The new standard aims to improve the way information is shared between women, their midwives, doctors and other members of the care team. By giving health care professionals and women the necessary information – in the right place, at the right time – NHS England hopes they will make better decisions for safer care.

Speaking at the launch of the new standard Mandy Forrester, head of quality and standards at the Royal College of Midwives, 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. This is a positive step and one that we welcome.”

The new guidance builds on the Healthy Child Record standard, published by the PRSB in October 2017. Together, these new standards should deliver a ‘seamless pathway’ for maternal and newborn care. NHS England claims 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.

Coding standards

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

The new Maternity Record Standard uses the internationally recognised SNOMED CT clinical coding system, in line with the Personalised Health and Care 2020 framework for action recommendations. All practices should have adopted this standard by the end of 2018.

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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 the interoperable exchange of information throughout the care pathway of the woman, regardless of location and systems in use.”

Digital Red Book

The adoption of new standard is part of NHS England’s Empower the Person programme. In its drive for digitisation, NHS England is trialling the introduction of a ‘digital red book’, replacing the familiar paper copy known to mothers across the UK.

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.”

NHS England hopes to complete the national rollout of the digital red book by 2020 as part of its Personalised Health and Care 2020 programme.

You can learn more about the new Maternity Record Standard on the PRSB website. To support the introduction of the new standard NHS Digital has produced its own Implementation guidance for the Standard Maternity Record, which practices may find useful.

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