Maternity records will be accessible from smartphones by 2023, the NHS has said. 

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, told an NHS conference yesterday that "bulky paper records would soon be banished" and pregnant women will be able to access their records from their own electronic devices by 2023 or 2024.

Paper records can also be kept, depending on the patient’s preference.

Some trusts already offer digital maternity records but the new system will be rolled out across the country to give a standard across the board.

The NHS is investing £52 million to fast-track the plans to ensure all women will have access to all of their maternity notes and information in the next few years.

Ms May said: "Midwives, GPs and other clinicians caring for a pregnant woman will also have easy access to information, no matter where or when the mum-to-be is seen.

"Not only will this help improve the experience for women by reducing the burden of repeating information to each healthcare professional that they see throughout their pregnancy, but it will also improve safety.

"It will help us to ensure the best health and care outcomes by preventing important details from being missed."

Healthcare providers will be supported to upgrade their maternity information systems so that records kept by different services are fully interoperable.

As part of the rollout, NHS England has hired Julia Gudgeon as the first national digital midwife.

Ms Gudgeon will help support the delivery of the new digital service to women across England. 

This latest round of funding for maternity services follows a promise from the Government to bring forward the digitisation of child health records.

In March, Downing Street said it was bringing forward work to digitise the records, often referred to as the ‘Red Book’, which also contains babies’ information about their growth and development.

This will apply to every new birth from April 2023, a year earlier than originally planned.

The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, promised a digital version of the ‘Red Book’ would be made available to the whole country by 2023/24.