Independent midwives NHSmail project
Whilst the NHS number is accessible electronically at the point of birth notification via NN4B in NHS maternity units, independent midwives and some community midwives are unable to access NN4B and rely on the child health administrator in the responsible PCT to notify the birth and generate the baby's NHS number on their behalf. Both notification of birth and NHS number are usually dispatched by post, which causes delay. All babies entitled to NHS care are entitled to the normally offered screening tests; this includes babies born to women who have opted for care from independent (self-employed) midwives. Implementing mandatory use of NHS number for screening meant that babies delivered by independent midwives were at risk of being tested outside of 5-8 days standard or subject to repeat requests because the baby's NHS number was not recorded on the blood spot.
The aim of the project was to facilitate secure transfer of birth notification from independent midwives to child health records departments and prompt return of the baby's NHS number to the midwife, in time for newborn blood spot screening on day 5 (day of birth is day 0).
To set up NHSmail email accounts for two independent midwives in order to test the concept. To set up a system that delivers timely access to the baby's NHS number by replacing postal services with secure email. To transfer the test accounts to an NHS administrator and plan for rollout if successful.
The team comprised representatives from the UK Newborn Screening Programme Centre, Independent Midwives UK, LSA Officers, Child Health Records Departments, NHSmail and the Regional Antenatal and Child Health Screening Teams.
The pilot project was confined to England and only child health records departments with NHSnet could participate, as end-to-end secure access is required.
The project ran from July to December 2010. Sixteen babies were born under the care of the independent midwives and all had their NHS numbers returned in time for screening; the mean time was 1.56 days and range 0-5 days.
All midwives and child health administrators found NHSmail an improvement on previous methods and indicated they would like to continue.
Midwives said it was a great advantage to have an electronic record of having despatched the birth notification and regional team members felt if universally adopted it could improve communication channels.
At the National Forum in October 2010, the LSA Midwifery Officers, agreed to support NHSmail accounts for independent midwives.
To close the project the NHSmail accounts needed to transfer from test account to the LSA/SHA. This was realised for the two midwives in the project on 30th March 2011.
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