System C has been awarded a contract to create a single child health record across six regions in the south of England.

The supplier will use its CarePlus Child Health software to integrate 800,000 health records across 14 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), five local authorities and six unitary authorities.

The project is being led by South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit (CSU). It won the NHS England procurement for a comprehensive child health record for Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Bath and North East Somerset in September last year.

Iona Rees, head of child health information services at the CSU, told Digital Health News that the integration of records will improve care.

“The different child health IT systems don’t talk to each other [currently] so it’s a real challenge when a child moves or moves into the area to make sure that you pick them up and they don’t get missed.”

“The real benefit [is] that within our region we’ll all be on the same system so we can track children much more easily.”

The unified record is due to be live by the end of October, and will be created by migrating data from TPP’s SystmOne, Servelec’s Rio and Advanced’s CareNotes.

It will hold information for children aged zero to 19, including immunisations, safeguarding concerns and any health visiting interventions – “anything that’s pertinent to a child’s health or social development”, Rees said.

She said the aim is to develop messaging with other health IT systems, such as GP practices, so different health and care organisations can communicate quickly. She admitted one of the challenges will be whether the systems the records want to interact with have messaging capability.

Sue Trinder, child health information services director for South, Central and West CSU, added in a statement that “a single IT system supports our mission to create interfaces with multiple providers and IT access for health and care services”.

Markus Bolton, joint chief executive of System C, said in a statement accompanying the announcement that “unified record projects of this sort are vital for remodelled NHS services and we are delighted to bring our experience and expertise to this project”.

CarePlus Child Health already houses the health records of about 6.2 million children, according to System C.

In October 2016, Digital Health News reported that Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust and System C had transferred all the child health department data from the West Midlands onto CarePlus.

Such projects are in keeping with a goal in the draft Child Health Digital Strategy, considered by the 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”.

Earlier efforts to integrate child health systems in England 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.

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 a system of ‘flags’ to indicate concerns that privacy campaigners argued were open to abuse.