Child health record ‘red book’ to go online

Image copyright
Science Photo Library

Image caption

The personal child health record – or red book – is given to parents at a child’s birth

The ‘red book’, containing a child’s medical records, is to be made available to parents online as part of government plans to improve NHS care for mothers and new babies.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also promised more specialist neonatal staff and intensive care cots for newborns.

The measures are designed to make maternity care safer while cutting stillbirths and infant deaths.

England still lags behind many European countries on baby deaths.

In 2017, 1,857 babies died during their first month of life, out of a total of more than 640,000 delivered in England.

Figures show that the number of stillbirths have declined steadily since 2010, but ministers say there is still more to do.

Matt Hancock said: “Great care also means safe care, but sadly too many women are still suffering the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child.

“We are committed to saving 4,000 lives by 2025 by halving stillbirths, maternal and infant deaths and serious brain injuries in new-borns.”

The previous health secretary Jeremy Hunt set a similar target in 2015 before introducing plans to investigate all unexplained cases of deaths and injuries during childbirth last year as progress slowed.

Going digital

The ‘red book’, also known as the personal child health record, given to parents at a child’s birth, is set to change.

Mr Hancock said it would be digitised “to keep pace with the times” and make life easier for parents and the NHS.

Health officials said physiotherapy would be made more widely available for the one-in-three women who experience incontinence after childbirth.

There are also plans to digitise women’s maternity records, starting with a pilot by the end of 2019.