UK government to digitise ‘Red Book’ by 2023

Andrea Leadsom's review highlights best possible start for new parents and their babies. (Photo: iStock)
Andrea Leadsom's review highlights best possible start for new parents and their babies. (Photo: iStock)

UK government is taking actions to improve health outcomes for babies and children by digitising the Personal Child Health Records, known as the ‘Red Book’ by 2023.

A review published on Thursday (25), led by the government adviser Andrea Leadsom – sets out vision for best practice across the health system to ensure babies and children can get the best possible start.

Moreover, the review stresses on “Start for Life” package of services for new parents that brings together the support available in their local area.

Leadsom, who was leader of the House of Commons in Theresa May’s government wants the new family hubs that is being created to have a particular focus on the parents of the youngest children, allowing them to access midwives, health visitors, social workers and other experts.

Leading child health experts agree the care given during the 1001 critical days has more influence on a child’s future than at any other time in their life.

However, children living in households of the lowest socio-economic groups have significantly worse health outcomes than other children – caused by stress and smoking in pregnancy, as well as communication problems due to language inequalities.

In order to make sure families have all the information they need and to access their children’s data and easily share it with appropriate professionals, the government, working with NHSX and in consultation with parents, will digitise the ‘Red Book’ by 2023.

Once digitised, it will ensure information is easily stored, protected from getting lost and making it easier to share with medical staff. This will apply to every new birth from April 2023.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock 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 from 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.”

Health minister Jo Churchill said: “Most babies are born healthy and enjoy a safe and nurturing childhood. However, some do not, therefore I am committed to removing barriers so all children are supported and nurtured so they are ready for life.

“This vision document sets out key areas for improvement to ensure every child has an opportunity to thrive and achieve their potential, regardless of their background.”

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