BMA joins call for consultation on new prenatal screening

By Julie Griffiths on 06 July 2018 BMA - British Medical Association Antenatal / Prenatal NIPT - Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing

The British Medical Association (BMA) has agreed that the government should consult on the views of the public and medical profession on the new non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT).

The motion passed at the recent BMA annual representative meeting said: ‘This meeting recognises that the advent of new technologies can bring new ethical challenges to light and; believes that given the advent of NIPT and the potential for whole genome sequencing the time is right for consultation to determine the views of the public and the profession on the need for limits to the scope of NIPT in practice.’

Disability advocacy groups hope that this development will put increased pressure on the government to undertake a full consultation and ethical review of NIPT; something they have been campaigning for for some time.

In 2016, an open letter signed by 900 people with Down’s syndrome and their families was delivered to Jeremy Hunt demanding that approval of the implementation of NIPT on the NHS be delayed until a proper consultation with the community and a full ethical review of the proposed implementation. 

However, following government approval of the UK National Screening Committee’s recommendation, an evaluative introduction of NIPT for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes is due to be rolled out across England this autumn. Read more on this here.

Wales was the first UK nation to introduce NIPT in April this year, in addition to the existing screening offer.