We support safe staffing in the maternity workforce

Ward App Review

We have recently launched a review of the Ward Acuity App which was first developed by a profession-led Expert Group in 2015. We are again working closely with maternity services to see how the tool could be improved to help support safe staffing decisions. We have recognised that changes in service delivery, practice, and policy in recent years, including the findings of The Ockenden Review, are having an impact on how women should be supported on wards and how maternity staff, including maternity support workers, can be deployed.

The review, which has involved a national survey and workshops, has now shown us that we need to update the Ward App to reflect current practice and ensure that it is used in a consistent way. As a result, we are working with an Expert Group of service users, alongside a national group that will include NHS England, The Royal College of Midwives, Regional Chief Midwives, academics, and senior professional leaders to upgrade the tool. Specifically, we are reviewing the frequency of data collection, categories and multipliers, alongside reporting. We anticipate that a revised Ward App will be ready for testing in the Autumn.

Whilst we carry this review out, we are pausing operation of the Ward App. Planned training will commence as soon as the new approach has been validated.

These changes do not affect the Intrapartum App which should continue to be used.

We would like to thank you for your understanding. The review is an opportunity for us to work together with services and national stakeholders to enhance the efficacy of the Ward App, in a consistent way.


  • COMING SOON – The improved Ward Acuity App will be available from the end of November – we will be in touch to arrange training and your “go live” date in the next few weeks.
  • Surveys sent to selected services using the ward acuity app.
  • 18th April 2023 – Workshop held via Teams – “The need for a ward acuity tool”
  • 4th May 2023 – Workshop held via Teams – “Defining the categories”
  • 29th May 2023 – Survey to be sent to all HOMs/ DOMs of services currently using the ward acuity app – senior midwifery leadership feedback.
  • 8th June 2023 – Ward app user workshop – face to face meeting – 10 units attended the workshop.
  • July / August 2023 – Phase 1 of testing – gathering data and analysis from a group of hospitals
  • TBD – Validation Group meeting  – representatives from NHSE, RCM, RCOG, Directors of Midwifery, Academia to be invited.
Last Updated 7th November 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

Can we use the manual data collection forms whilst the tool is offline?

Used in isolation, the forms will not provide details of acuity levels, only activity levels such as number of women in each category and number of staff available to provide care.

All of the datasets in the WARD acuity tool as under review as part of this process. 

Therefore, we do not recommend using the forms and they will not be available for the duration of the review process.

We have a copy of the excel version of the ward acuity tool – can we use this?

We have not been using the excel version for some time and do not advocate it’s use under any circumstances.

All the datasets in the WARD acuity tool are under review as part of this process.

Therefore, we do not recommend using the excel version.

How do you suggest we monitor safe staffing on the wards during this time?

Your Birthrate Plus establishment review will recommend your planned staffing levels. You should continue to deploy staffing in line with those levels supported by professional judgement.

The local escalation policy should be used where necessary.

Colleagues should continue to record and report midwifery staffing red flags via the incident reporting system noting staffing factors and any mitigating actions taken to promote safe care.

For Trust Board oversight of safe staffing, we recommend triangulation of this information, along with other midwifery sensitive indicators reported via the quality dashboard as well as, but not limited to, data captured on the intrapartum acuity tool as well as both staff and patient experience.

How can I access the historical data in the ward app?

Please contact a member of the team via this email [email protected] and we will arrange data to be sent to you. This will take approximately 2 weeks due to current demand.

How will you keep me informed?

We will provide regular updates on the website as well as direct communication with Heads of Midwifery

Can my unit be involved in the review process?

The review has been progressing over a period of time and we have identified several units who have been invited to take part in the review. However, we welcome comments from as many as possible. Please send any comments to [email protected]

Birthrate plus is the only midwifery specific tool that has given me the insight and data to model midwifery numbers and skill mix to inform my decision making ensuring that the service is safe and sustainable

Giuseppe Labriola, Director of Midwifery

Our Workforce and Acuity App tools work in unison. Click here to read more about Workforce Planning