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Hundreds have already attended new NIPT training

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: NHS Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme

Back in November 2016 and March 2017 we published blog articles about the additional option of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) to the fetal anomaly screening pathway.

Evidence has shown that introducing this test could reduce the number of women undergoing invasive diagnostic testing, which carries a risk of miscarriage. We will offer NIPT to women who have received a higher chance result of having a baby with Down’s, Edwards’ or Patau’s syndrome following first trimester combined or second trimester quadruple screening. It involves taking a blood test from the pregnant woman.

The NHS Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme (FASP) is running a series of training events in collaboration with Antenatal Results and Choices, the Down’s Syndrome Association,  the Down Syndrome Research Foundation and Support Organisation for Trisomy 13/18 (SOFT UK).

The aim of the training is to help healthcare professionals support women in making personalised informed choices about screening for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes, which will include the additional option of NIPT from 2018.

Royalty spotted at first event

The Imperial War Museum venue was a fantastic backdrop for a very successful first event in London. Some delegates even spotted Prince William, who was attending an official engagement at the same time.

Events are being held until the end of the year in venues ranging from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester to Leicester.

Early feedback suggests they have been well received, informative and thought provoking.

NIPT training event at Imperial War Museum
The first NIPT training event, held at the Imperial War Museum

Cascading learning to colleagues

More than 300 people have already attended the training, including 288 NIPT Champions. These are people who will be responsible for making sure all relevant colleagues in their trust complete a set programme of cascade training.

We estimate it will take approximately 2.5 hours to complete the main or essential elements of the NIPT cascade training, which includes films, presentations and interactive aspects. NIPT Champions can choose to add additional recommended aspects of the training, which we estimate will take a further 2 hours.

The Screening Quality Assurance Service (SQAS) and screening and immunisation teams will monitor attendance at the national training events and the compliance of provider trusts in delivering local cascade training. This local training requirement is included in the 2017 to 2018 fetal anomaly screening service specification.

Through 2017-18 the FASP programme will undertake a scoping exercise to plan how NIPT might be integrated into the current screening pathway as an additional option for women with a higher risk result. This will require education and training of all staff contributing to the screening pathway and development of local pathways and policies in readiness for an evaluative roll-out in 2018-19.
Extract from the 2017 to 2018 fetal anomaly screening service specification

All midwives who offer women screening for Down’s, Edwards‘ and Patau’s syndromes must complete the cascade training. NIPT Champions also consider the training needs of:

  • sonographers
  • obstetricians
  • fetal medicine practitioners

If you are directly involved in offering or discussing screening for Down’s, Edwards‘ and Patau’s syndromes, then keep an eye out for the NIPT cascade training coming to a unit near you soon.

We will share further information on the plans and progress for the evaluative roll-out of NIPT via the PHE Screening blog.

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