Paperless NHS and Centile Charts

Yesterday I was at an NHS meeting in Cambridge where NHS England reaffirmed their commitment to having a ‘paperLite’ NHS by 2018, although they did at least admit that it was an unlikely target to hit. This struck home with the project that I was currently working on.

Is it not absolutely absurd that in 2014 the only source to child weight and growth charts is a photocopied (or printed from PDF) paper chart. Every parent in the country knows these as they form a large part of their child’s ‘Red Book’ which the health visitor and physician update on regular visits to check on their child’s growth. This is fine for regular, scheduled visits but what about in an emergency or unscheduled event. How is the treating clinician supposed to know if the patient is outside the norms and whether this could impact the symptoms or treatments?

This also had a very personal memory for me as my youngest child has achondroplasia and it took my GP months to get hold of a specialised set of growth charts for her which ended up being sent in the post from a specialist hospital. Absurd and very upsetting for parents.

Doctors have been asking for over a decade for a solution to this. Indeed there has been an outstanding request for over two years in the NHShackDay group. After much effort, Marcus Baw finally managed to get hold of some UK data for standard growth (It seems the data is under copyright) and a licence to use it and was trying to put something together so that it could be made available. Seeing how long this had been dragging along and how much pointless discussion was being posted without anything actually happening I offered to help him out and within 24 hours had a working prototype service up and running.

This has been maturing for a week or so now and we believe we have all the bugs ironed out so can now offer this as a public service in the form of RESTful apis. The API descriptions are self-publishing in the standard SWAGGER format and the calls and details are available to view AND USE here


We have also put together a web page (still under development but usable) that uses these calls and can be used by the public and clinicians alike.


The key thing that should be understood is that the APIs are open and available for anyone else to use in their own applications, mobile apps, whatever. I am hosting and maintaining them as a free and public service (which brings me on to my next posting).

This might only be a small step to a paperless NHS but I hope that it is one that will benefit clinicians and parents alike.

I am hoping that others may develop their own applications to use this at the next NHS hack day in London on 24/25th May.

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