The NHS Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP) screens babies during the first few weeks of their lives to help find those born with a hearing loss. This means babies and their families can be offered the right support, treatment and information at the very earliest stage, helping to ensure they can reach their full educational and social potential.
Significant changes are taking place to the local NHSP services in parts of England due to:
- maternity units now receive funding for newborn screening within the post-natal maternity pathway payment (MPP)
- commissioning of health visitors moves to local authorities from 1 October
- trust mergers
Screening is delivered by NHSP services in one of 2 different models, either hospital or community based. Any local services considering changing model or structure should not underestimate the complexity and amount of work involved.
Our experience of the current changes has identified several factors which have increased the time required to implement a new service. Changes require much planning both at local and national level. From staff recruitment, TUPE arrangements, staff training and national assessment. Equipment handover and reconfiguration, transition planning and the change to the national IT system (eSP) are all required. Experience has shown that you need a minimum of 4-6 months to set up a new local programme in order to mitigate risks. Commissioners should seek assurance at each stage of implementation. The national programme team will offer support and guidance throughout the process and will have responsibility to sanction the change to eSP once assurances are in place, to avoid the risk of disruption to screening at the new and neighbouring sites.
If the boundary area of health visitor responsibility changes, as a result of the move to Local Authority commissioning, this may cause issues in both community and their neighbouring sites, as the national IT system (eSP) maps babies to the responsible NHSP site determined by registered GP/CCG.Commissioners should be assured that responsibility for screening is clearly determined as a result of boundary changes.
Please inform the national programme team of any known plans to change a service at the earliest opportunity by emailing the helpdesk at PHE.firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHE Screening blog
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