The Department of Health has launched an interactive website offering advice and information to parents of babies as part of its commitment to provide online health checks.
NHS Baby LifeCheck is one of three initial NHS LifeChecks that the DH committed to launch following the 2006 white paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say.
However, the service has been rethought since the initial plans outlined in the white paper which proposed that patients would be able to complete an online self-assessment of their health and send it electronically to their GP to be stored as part of their record.
In 2006 the plan was that LifeChecks would be available through the patient portal HealthSpace and that patients would have the option to share their assessment electronically with their GP surgery while those whose self-assessment indicated they were at significant risk would be able to discuss the results with a ‘health trainer’.
The scaled back version of the LifeChecks now launched by the government enable patients to print out their goals and health tips but no identifying information is retained and there is no link to GP records.
NHS Baby LifeCheck is the second of the initial LifeChecks to be launched following on from the national launch of NHS Teen LifeCheck in June. A third online health check, NHS Mid-life LifeCheck, targeted at people aged 45 to 60, will be launched at the end of the year.
NHS Baby LifeCheck is targeted at parents and carers of babies aged five to eight months and includes a series of multiple choice questions and then offers advice and reassurance. Marketed with the tag line ‘Am I doing it right?’ the service covers topics including development, talking and playing, feeding, healthy teeth, safety, sleep routine, immunisations and being a parent.
The Baby LifeCheck service has been piloted in 83 of the most deprived local authorities in England under the name NHS Early Years LifeCheck but the name was changed for the national launch after feedback from users that the name could cause confusion about the age group covered by the site.
Health Minister Ann Keen said the site was a reliable source of non-judgemental, online information for parents and carers.
She added: “It’s an easy way for parents to find out if they are doing the best thing for their child, whilst also supporting them to set goals or find further help to make improvements for themselves and their baby.”
The DH said the launch of NHS Teen LifeCheck had been extremely successful with approximately 80,000 hits to the website since the launch on 10 June. In the first month following launch there were 50,000 hits on the site, five times the monthly target of 10,000. Questionnaire completions were currently running at 54%, surpassing the target completion level of 35%.
LifeCheck, HealthSpace, GP, NHS Choices, DH