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Combined approach to replacing free printed family origin questionnaire

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme

We blogged in September about the need for NHS maternity service providers to consider their options for replacing the free printed family origin questionnaire (FOQ) antenatal screening form when it is phased out next year.

The NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia (SCT) Screening Programme uses the FOQ to help assess if someone is likely to be a carrier for sickle cell, thalassaemia or another haemoglobin disorder.

Providers should be planning now to replace the national printed FOQ form to ensure they have a continued supply after 1 April 2021. A number of local NHS antenatal screening providers have already developed their own approaches to suit local processes.

Successful methods include:

  • development of a local digital version of the FOQ
  • a combined booking bloods and FOQ form that goes to the screening labs with all the antenatal samples

It is essential that the contents of any locally designed digital or combined FOQ forms align with the contents of the current national form.

PHE’s national NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia (SCT) Screening Programme team will inform providers whenever any changes are made to this national FOQ specification.

The combined approach

Two antenatal screening providers in the North East, York and North Tees and Hartlepool, have already implemented a combined FOQ and antenatal booking bloods form.

Their form combines orders for antenatal bloods for

  • transfusion
  • haematology (SCT screening)
  • serology (infectious diseases in pregnancy screening)

Before implementing its combined form, York and North Tees and Hartlepool consulted with the PHE national NHS SCT Screening Programme team and the screening quality assurance service (SQAS).

They also consulted with community midwives and healthcare staff working across the SCT screening pathway as well as IDPS laboratories and blood bank staff.

Their form will now be reviewed annually to make sure it remains consistent with national specifications.


The blood sample for SCT screening must be accompanied by an FOQ when it arrives at the screening lab because the information on it is part of the screening test.

However, York and North Tees and Hartlepool found that FOQ forms did not always arrive with samples, either because they had become separated or had not been sent.

The use of their combined form now enables the blood samples to be easily identified as antenatal specimens and therefore prioritised. Having one form for all booking bloods also makes it easier for community midwives who now have only one form to fill in for all the antenatal tests.

National support and shared learning

The above is just one example of a successful method for replacing the free printed FOQ. We will focus in a future blog article on an example of a locally designed digital FOQ form.

Local NHS antenatal screening providers that have not already started to make arrangements for procuring a local replacement for the free printed national FOQ should do so now.

The PHE national SCT screening programme team is keen to make the transition from the national printed FOQ as smooth as possible and we will share more examples of best practice via this blog.

Please contact the helpdesk if your service has successfully developed a local digital version of the FOQ or a combined booking bloods and FOQ form. We can then make sure other services learn from your experience.

Thank you for your help in implementing this change.

PHE Screening blog

The PHE Screening blog provides 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. If you have any questions about this blog article, or about population screening in England, please contact the PHE screening helpdesk.

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