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Screening standards Revised

25 November, 2008

Screening standards Revised

The UK Newborn Screening Programme Centre has replaced its April 2005 standards one to six. These are set to be implemented from 1 April next year. The UK Newborn Screening Programme Centre has replaced its April 2005 standards one to six. These are set to be implemented from 1 April next year.


Midwives magazine:December 2008/January 2009

Newborn screening

The National Screening Committee recommend that all babies in the UK are offered screening for phenylketonuria, congenital hypothyroidism, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis and medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency.

The UK Newborn Screening Programme Centre has produced revised standards for blood spot screening. These replace standards one to six in the Policies and standards for newborn blood spot screening (April 2005) and unless stated within the document, have an implementation date of 1 April 2009.

They aim to underpin the performance management framework and ensure timeliness, population uptake and timely diagnosis, assessment and treatment of babies who screen positive.

There are two additional standards that aim to drive improvement in the quality of the blood spot sample and the timeliness of re-screening.

The quality of the blood spot sample, correct identification by use of the baby’s NHS number (preferably as a bar-coded label) and timeliness of taking and processing of the sample are vital to the blood spot programme.
Thousands of babies are subject to repeat screening due to insufficient blood, the sample taken too early or too soon after blood transfusion, documentation errors or omissions and delays in despatch.

The first blood spot sample should be taken five to eight days after birth, ideally on day five (count date of birth as day 0) irrespective of medical condition, prematurity or feeding status. Taking the test should be recorded in the mother’s maternity record (and the personal child health record (PCHR) where available). This record should be checked on discharge/transfer and any outstanding tests needed, highlighted to the health professional responsible for taking over the baby’s care.

The standards are measured at two levels: core and developmental. The core standards set out the expected level of performance to deliver an acceptable level of quality. The developmental standards depict a level of performance that delivers enhanced quality. The standards are accompanied by best practice guidelines, which should be followed to deliver high-quality screening processes and to meet the standards. Performance against the standards is monitored and reported annually to the strategic health authority screening leads for dissemination and action.

Each region in all UK countries have antenatal and newborn screening teams. The core remit of teams is the implementation and monitoring of appropriate antenatal and newborn screening and the provision of appropriate education and training.

Further information

The standards are available

  • In pdf format at: www.newbornbloodspot.screening.nhs.uk/download/UKNSPCstandards_guidelines_Aug2008.pdf
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