Skip to main content

Updated screening standards for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes

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

All of our screening programmes have national standards to ensure there is access to:

  • reliable and timely information about the quality of the screening programme
  • data at local regional and national level
  • quality measures across the screening pathway without gaps or duplications

National standards ensure a consistent approach across screening programmes and ensure data is useful.

Following consultation, we have published updated screening standards for the NHS Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme (FASP). These revised standards have an implementation date of 1 April 2018.

The revised FASP screening standards online at GOV.UK

All pregnant women in England are offered a screening test for Down's syndrome, Edwards' syndrome and Patau's syndrome between 10 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. This is to assess the chances of them having a baby with one of these conditions.

Midwives, obstetricians, sonographers and screening and diagnostic laboratory staff who provide care as part of FASP should make sure they are familiar with the revised standards. They should be read in conjunction with the service specifications for the programme.

The new standards provide a set of measures that providers have to meet to make sure local screening services are safe and effective. Data is collected and reported annually against the standards in order to support health professionals and commissioners in providing a high quality programme.

What have we changed?

Annette McHugh, the author of this blog, is programme manager for the NHS Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme, which is led by Public Health England

We have taken the opportunity to move from using the word ‘risk’ when talking about the possibility of having a baby with Down's, Edwards' or Patau's syndromes, to using ‘chance’.

We made this change because our stakeholders told us that using ‘risk’ gives a negative view of the conditions. We will be making this change in all our public and professional information over the next year or so.

We have also removed the glossary from the standards document and now refer to PHE screening’s central glossary of terms. If you would like to see the meaning of an acronym in the standards, hover over each one with your cursor and you will be able to see the full definition.

We have included additional measures in standard 3 - test performance (under 3a and 3b). These include the programme detection rate as well as current screen positive rate.

Following feedback from some recent antenatal data workshops we have also made some of the definitions clearer and easier to understand to help you with collecting the right data.

Look out for the FASP annual standards data report for 2016 to 2017 which will be published soon.

PHE Screening blogs

PHE Screening blogs provide up to date news from all NHS screening programmes. You can register to receive updates direct to your inbox, so there’s no need to keep checking for new blogs.

Sharing and comments

Share this page