One of NHS England’s first procurements for a single region-wide child service has migrated records for 1.4 million children onto the same software.

Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust and System C have now transferred all the child health department data from the West Midlands onto the company’s CarePlus software, after starting in April.

The integrated child health system now covers Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Shropshire, Solihull, Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Telford and Wrekin, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire.

It is intended that all the departments will be on a single database by February 2017, with ten divisions already merged.

The contract was awarded in November last year, and aims to prevent problems occurring when children move home and records have to be transferred between multiple IT systems.

The information held by CarePlus includes data such as immunisations and vaccinations from birth to 16 years, and flags for vulnerable children.

Mary Porter, lead at Child Health Information Service (Northern Hub), said “quality of care” will be improved with huge work and costs savings.

“Simply having everything in one place reduces a lot of work when a child moves from one area into another.”

CarePlus will also provide automated new birth registration and integration with a wide range of organisations and services across the region, including maternity hospitals and GP practices.

The CarePlus project manager at System C, Charles Jeffery, commented on the difficult task of amalgamating systems: “Replacing systems from multiple vendors across multiple organisations and combining them into large instances is a complex task”.

The project is in-keeping with a goal in the draft Child Health Digital Strategy, considered by National Information Board earlier this year. The paper includes a goal of public health professionals accessing “more comprehensive, more up to date datasets as interoperability of events gradually replaces the re-keying of information from paper notifications”.

Other core plans from the strategy include the creation of a digital child health hub to bring together information on a child’s health from multiple systems – accessible by clinicians, patients and their carers.

Earlier efforts to integrate child health systems in this country have run into difficulties. Following the tragic death of Victoria Climbie in 2002, ContactPoint was set up to improve the sharing of information between agencies.

However, after costing £224 million to set up and about £40 million a year to run, it was abandoned in 2010 as part of the Conservative Party's election commitment to dismantle "the database state." Criticisms included the system being accessible too many users and for using a system of 'flags' to indicate concerns that privacy campaigners argued were open to abuse.

CarePlus is already in 18 UK child health departments, including a group of 12 NHS trusts and primary care trusts in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and Kent and Medway.
 

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