Ghislaine-Weston and Martin Bell

Following the publication of the government’s Every Child Matters green paper in 2003 and the ensuing Children’s Act the NHS in Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire (AGW) recognised that its existing child health systems fell short of new legislative requirements.

To meet those demands and improve its service the consortium of acute and primary care trusts in AGW selected McKesson’s CarePlus Child Health system. The trusts were the first consortium of trusts to implement the system in the South of England.

The system has been rolled out over two phases and now provides a fully integrated, single patient system across all five health communities – Bristol, Gloucestershire, Bath, Swindon and Salisbury.

Martin Bell, director of IM&T at North Bristol NHS Trust, said it was clear that the consortium needed to move to a single, modern child health record across its community.

He added: “We selected the McKesson CarePlus Child Health system on the basis that McKesson are leading professionals in the design and implementation of child health systems and have the understanding to help us realise the full benefits of the programme.”

McKesson’s CarePlus Child Health is offered as a ‘best of breed’ solution in southern England, providing a web-based system to control a child health programme either within a single trust or over a number of trusts or strategic health authorities.

The core modules are Registration which controls the entry of children into the system and the Immunisation module which controls invitations for immunisations. Other modules can track children through their pre-school and school health careers or support special groups such as Child protection and Sure Start.

Ghislaine Weston, child health programme manager for AGW, said the size of the project presented a number of key challenges, including continued engagement and conversation between the five health communities and the numerous organisations within those communities.

Weston added: “Further, all health communities used and administered their existing Child Health systems in different ways, requiring an element of standardisation and de-duplication of children’s records across the wider programme community. McKesson had the necessary experience to understand exactly how these needs would differ, and to manage this with every installation.”

Bell said the deployment of the solution across all five communities had already started to bring benefits associated with a ‘safety net of care’ for children’s services.

He adds: “An example of this is where children move across local authority boundaries, there is a continuous record for the child in immunisation and vaccination programmes as their records are now centrally held and easily accessible by every system user in Avon, Gloucester and Wiltshire.”

Bell says the work involved in switching over to the new system was also paying dividends. He adds: “The sheer amount of data cleansing and field mapping required to make this pan-organisational system work has led to a huge increase in confidence in the accuracy of the information held. “

Val Scrase, Assistant Director of Children and Young People’s Services for Wiltshire PCT, adds: “The potential of the system is immense. We are only using a relatively small amount of the functionality at present, but there are huge opportunities for developing it further, which would support clinical delivery by practitioners.”

The AGW consortium now plans to widen the programme to include more stakeholders from both its commissioner organisations and increasing numbers of clinicians,

Bell added: “Having proved that collaborative working can be a success, we now aim to develop the system, and more importantly the way in which it is used, to deliver further functionality, tighter integration with our existing IT infrastructure, rollout to additional business areas and rollout to other health communities.”