The NHS newborn hearing screening programme (NHSP) in England helps to identify about 27 babies a week who are born with a permanent moderate, severe and profound deafness and hearing impairment. We know that finding out early can give these babies a better chance of developing language, speech, and communication skills. NHSP offers screening to all babies, ideally within the first 4 to 5 weeks after they are born.
Over the past few months, the PHE newborn hearing screening team and colleagues have been carrying out a major review of the 2018 NHSP standards, which help monitor the quality of newborn hearing screening across the country.
Have your say
We are now at an important stage where we need your views. We have launched a consultation on the proposed changes, and this is your chance to have a say. We want to know, among other things:
- are the standards clear?
- are there any issues we have not addressed?
- do you agree with the thresholds?
Please let us know. We welcome comments from:
- all our stakeholders, including hearing screening teams, audiologists and other health professionals
- other screening service providers
- charitable organisations
Please take this opportunity to complete the survey and have your say on the proposed changes to the standards. The consultation will be open for 4 weeks. The closing date is 24 June 2021.
You can check the current NHSP standards for reference.
Main proposed changes to the standards
The main proposed changes and suggested performance thresholds are detailed below.
There would be no changes to performance thresholds, and they would remain:
- acceptable level: ≥ 98.0%
- achievable level: ≥ 99.5%
NHSP-S02: test: well babies who do not show a clear response in both ears at automated otoacoustic emission 1 (AOAE1)
NHSP standard S02 has been separated out for (a) hospital and (b) community model services.
Performance threshold data has been reviewed.
NHSP-S02a (hospital services)
The acceptable level would remain at ≤ 27.0%.
The achievable level would be reduced from ≤ 22.0% to ≤ 20.0%, and then change to ≤ 18.0% if the data supports this at the 12 months minor standards review.
NHSP-S02b (community services)
The acceptable level would be reduced from ≤ 15.0% to ≤ 14.0%.
The achievable level would be reduced from ≤ 13.5% to ≤ 12.0%.
NHSP-S03: test: referral rate to audiological assessment
NHSP standard S03 would be separated out for (a) hospital and (b) community model services.
Performance threshold data has been reviewed.
NHSP-S03a (hospital services)
The acceptable level would be reduced from ≤ 3.0% and with a range: > 2.0% to ≤ 2.8%.
The achievable level would be a range: ≥ 0.5% to ≤ 2.0%.
NHSP-S03b (community services)
The acceptable level would be a range: > 1.3% to ≤ 1.6%.
The achievable level would be a range: ≥ 0.5% to ≤ 1.3%.
NHSP-S04: referral: time from screening outcome to first offered appointment for audiological assessment
There would be a reduction in timescales to offer first appointment within 3 weeks. This is proposed in an attempt to drive improvement in the attainment of babies attending audiological assessment within 4 weeks to meet standard NHSP S05 and KPI NH2. There would be a change to performance thresholds of:
- acceptable level from ≥ 97.0% to ≥ 90.0%
- achievable level from ≥ 99.0% to ≥ 97.0%
NHSP-S05: diagnosis/intervention: time from screening outcome to attendance at an audiological assessment appointment
There would be no changes to the performance thresholds, and they would remain:
- acceptable level: ≥ 90.0 %
- achievable level: ≥ 95.0 %
How we will use your feedback
We hope that you will contribute to the consultation, as your feedback on all 5 standards is important to us. All responses will be reviewed and considered. If you require access to the consultation in another format please get in touch with the PHE screening helpdesk.
A summary of the responses received will be made publicly available on GOV.UK via the blog within 12 weeks of the consultation closing. This is to meet the Cabinet Office consultation principles.
The NHSP standards working group will review the responses and agree any changes. The revised standards will be published in December 2021, ready to be implemented from April 2022.
Please share this blog post and details of the consultation with colleagues who are involved in the NHSP pathways.
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.