England's personal child health records to be digitised by April 2023

Following a government review to reduce health inequalities for babies and children, the digitisation process has been brought forward a year.
By Sara Mageit
10:40 AM
Children's health

(Photo by Jose Luis Pelaez/ Getty Images)

A recent Early Years review entitled, The best start for life: a vision for the 1,001 critical days has been published, setting out a vision for healthcare best practice for babies and children in England, UK.

Led by Andrea Leadsom, UK MP and Early Years health advisor, the review also brings attention to the importance of improving health outcomes of children living in households in the lowest socio-economic groups.

Amongst the six action areas outlined in the review, providing access to the information families need when they need it was highlighted as key to improving health outcomes for babies and young children.

This will be implemented by 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’.

WHY IT MATTERS

The red book contains babies’ details and information about their growth and development. Digitising it will ensure information is easier to store, protected and easier to share with medical staff. This will apply to every new birth from April 2023, a year earlier than originally planned. 

The basis of the review is that care given during the first 1,001 days of life has more influence on a child's future than any other time in their life. Experiences during this time have a critical impact on health, wellbeing and opportunity of children as they navigate life.  

The key areas of action aim to ensure children have opportunities to thrive and achieve their full health and wellbeing potential regardless of background.

Local governments will work with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), Public Health England and NHS England and Improvement to log the Start for Life journey of parents and carers. The aim is to capture how they experience digital, virtual and telephone-based services during the 1,001 first days from conception to the age of two.

Parents and carers will have an NHS-branded ‘one stop shop’ online to access the information required. 

THE LARGER CONTEXT

Healthcare IT News recently interviewed CIOs at children's hospitals to discuss valuable lessons to surface from the pandemic. IT leaders shared how innovation, adaptive teamwork and EHR optimisation have helped with challenges at hand.

ON THE RECORD

Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary, said: "I believe in the value that every single person has to offer, and I want every child to reach their full potential.

"Everybody should have a solid foundation on which to build their health and we are determined to level up the opportunities for children, no matter their background or where they grow up.

"I want to thank Andrea Leadsom for this inspirational and important report. Through her ‘action areas’, we will reduce the barriers and improve early childhood experiences – and we’re already making a start by bringing forward our commitment to digitise the red book by April 2023."

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