The value of obstetric surveillance systems within the National Health Service


Correspondence: Pippa Kyle. Email:


Key content

  • There are several obstetric surveillance systems currently used within the National Health Service (NHS).
  • These systems employ a variety of techniques to monitor a range of important health conditions and medical services.
  • Uses of surveillance data include monitoring disease, clinical audit, research and resource planning.
  • A surveillance system must be designed appropriately if it is to achieve its desired purpose and remain a justifiable use of public funds.

Learning objectives

  • To be able to identify the different surveillance system types currently employed within obstetrics and their appropriate uses.
  • To understand the advantages and limitations of surveillance system data in obstetrics.
  • To appreciate the importance of appropriate surveillance system design in generating useful data.

Ethical issues

  • Surveillance systems contain large volumes of personal data. Relevant legal permissions are required to collect, store and permit access to such data that is often collected without explicit consent.