A single child health system for the West Midlands will operate from April next year, following the award of a region-wide contract to Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust and System C.

This is one of the first procurements for a single region-wide child health service to be run by NHS England. 

Birmingham Community Healthcare will provide a unified child health information service using System C’s CarePlus child health software. The aim is that this single system will enable better access to records by health staff across the region, enhancing care and safeguarding.

The new West Midlands child health service, to be introduced from 1 April 2016, will cover Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Shropshire, Solihull, Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Telford and Wrekin, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire.

Currently, the health records of children who move home within the region have to be transferred between multiple different IT systems. Under the new system, staff will be able to keep track of each child’s health records when they move to another area within the West Midlands.

CarePlus will also provide automated new birth registration and integration with a range of organisations and services, including the maternity hospital, hearing screening services, GP practices and the Personal Demographics Service.

Nicola Benge, consultant lead screening and immunisations for NHS England (West Midlands), said the new contract will be a “vital tool in ensuring that all children’s information will be more easily accessed.

“The new system will not only help health professionals who use and update the records, but also will give piece of mind to parents in the West Midlands by giving them the assurance that their child’s data can be kept track of and securely saved and updated,” she said.

Birmingham Community Healthcare will be the lead provider for the single service, and will work with sub-contractors South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust and Staffordshire and Shropshire Health Informatics Service.

Claire Paintain, the trust’s associate director, specialist children's services, said: “The creation of a single service managing child health records across the West and North Midlands is a significant step forwards in co-ordinating and improving healthcare and safeguarding for children.

Markus Bolton, joint chief executive of System C, added: “The integration of systems and the management of health records over large geographic areas are central to the modernisation of the NHS.  The future of child health is in projects of this sort.”