RCPCH respond to Labour plans to digitise the red book

Ahead of the next UK General Election, Labour have announced plans to digitise the NHS red book.

The red book or Personal Child Health Record (PCHR), is a national standard health and development record given to parents/carers at a child's birth. The red book has been provided to new parents by the NHS for the past thirty years. 

The reforms announced by Labour will see children’s health records kept on parents’ NHS app. Under these plans, parents and the NHS will be able to see if children are behind on jabs or check ups, with automatic notifications to notify parents and the option to book an appointment through the app.

In December, RCPCH published an updated vaccination position statement that includes key data on vaccination uptake, economic benefits from vaccinations, key messages for healthcare professionals and a range of recommendations to improve access and uptake for immunisations. In this, we called on the UK Government to accelerate the digital child health record. 

Responding to the announcement, RCPCH Immunisation Expert, Professor Helen Bedford, said:

Paediatricians and child health professionals have long advocated for better data collection and sharing across the NHS. Digitising the red book would mean that parents, carers and healthcare professionals would have ready access to an accurate record of the child's health. While improved data collection may not be the most attention-grabbing topic, it would be an absolute game changer for child health services. 

We saw some of the problems not having ready access to immunisation records created recently in the current measles outbreaks in England. The lack of an immunisation record in a digital red book prevented healthcare workers’ ability to quickly identify children who were not up to date with their MMR vaccines and where appropriate to provide information and vaccines to protect children and prevent further outbreaks.