We have published new guidance that describes the checks and audits needed for antenatal and newborn screening pathways.
There are separate publications for:
- fetal anomaly screening
- infectious diseases in pregnancy screening
- newborn blood spot screening
- newborn hearing screening
- newborn and infant physical examination screening
- sickle cell and thalassaemia screening
Each publication has 2 parts. The first explains how we developed the checks and audits processes. It also includes examples that explain what can go wrong if checks are not in place or if they are not strong or timely.
The second part of the publication is a template for local providers to use.
Purpose of checks
Each national screening programme has a pathway that defines the stages of the screening process. Lots of people undergo screening and move between the different stages of the pathway.
The checks, known as failsafe processes, help:
- make sure the pathway is completed safely and without delay
- to identify and correct anything that goes wrong quickly
The quality assurance (QA) of screening programmes includes checking these failsafe processes are in place and working effectively.
The template also describes additional annual audits that providers should undertake. These will help show if the whole system is working effectively.
Helping local services to make sure checks are in place
We looked at information from various sources including screening safety incidents, QA activities, including visits and enquiries to the screening helpdesk, to help understand the points in the pathways where things seem to go wrong.
For each recommended check, the templates cover:
- what: this is what we recommend you do
- why: these are the reasons we are recommending this
- how: this is how you might do this
- when: this is how often we recommend you undertake the actions or performs the checks
Start using the templates now
Local providers should use the templates to record whether the correct checks are in place and if they are being done often enough.
If not, they should use them to develop an action plan. Providers can use completed templates and action plans as discussion points at local programme boards and as evidence for QA visits.