Working in a digital world
The use of electronic record keeping in maternity must be supported with the right training for staff say the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), publishing new guidance today.
“Right now, we are in a hybrid world somewhere between digital and written records, juggling between both for different aspects of our work. That will change and the move to full digital recording is inevitable, and indeed desirable,” said Hermione Jackson, the RCM’s Digital Midwifery Advisor. “The NHS, particularly in maternity services, has been lagging behind in the use of digital technology, but that is changing. It will become a much more central part of our working lives, including record keeping. It’s important that midwives and MSWs keep abreast of developments and use best practice when using digital technology for record keeping, and that’s where our new guidance can help,” she said.
Using digital technology will reap benefits for midwives, their colleagues, and the women in their care. It will improve the sharing of information and reduce the need for women to repeat information to different professionals.
While the NMC code has nothing specific on digital record keeping, the same fundamental rules apply in the digital world as it does with pen and paper. The need to a keep clear, accurate and timely record of the care you give is paramount.
“Recording information digitally doesn’t mean recording different information, it’s just a different way of doing it. There will be new things to learn and new ways of doing things but using the technology will ultimately make our working lives easier,” said Hermione. “Digital record keeping will also streamline local and national data collection, supporting the delivery of safer care and improving women’s experience through pregnancy and beyond. It’s a win, win for midwives, MSWs and women,” she said.
The RCM’s new guidance sets out key principles for record keeping, to use in combination with the NMC code and local record keeping guidelines.
In a linked development NHS England and NHS Improvement are seeking a National Digital Lead Midwife who will work under the NHSX programme. According to the job advert, the role will drive the overarching strategy for digital maternity services at a regional and national level. Among the other responsibilities will be providing digital leadership within maternity services and supporting the design and implementation of national digital programmes. “This is a really significant recognition of the importance of midwifery leadership in digital and aligns with what we have been asking for from NHSX,” said Hermione Jackson. The closing date for applications is 5 April 2021.
The RCM’s Electronic Record Keeping Guidance can be read at Publications (rcm.org.uk)
See also the RCM’s recently published Digital Technology in Maternity Care position statement at https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/4789/rcm_position-statement_digital-technologies_final.pdf.
The National Digital Lead Midwife job advert can be read at https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/xi/vacancy/916440870.