As a nation we are at a critical point on the road map back to some form of normal life. It is at moments like these that we often pause to reflect on what has passed. As we do this, we (PHE Screening, and NHS England and NHS Improvement) want to recognise the huge contribution of all staff working in delivering the NHS Screening programmes.
In this blog article we will take a look at the antenatal and newborn (ANNB) NHS screening programmes and how services met the challenges they faced. We'll be focusing on the NHS screening programmes for young people and adults in the coming weeks.
A challenging time
Antenatal and newborn screening programmes are time critical. We asked staff to continue to deliver these with some minor adjustments, which we provided as technical guidance.
You did this, and we recognise that the last year was tough for many reasons. We know that you (to name just a few):
- adapted how services were delivered in record time to keep screening going while keeping women and babies safe
- continued to maintain failsafe processes
- provided screening data as requested
- continued to implement SMaRT4NIPE (S4N) and record screening outcomes
- worked on the hepatitis B quality improvement plan
- got prepared for the addition of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) to the existing NHS screening pathway for Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome.
- prepared for the evaluation of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)
In particular, we know that delivering an ultrasound screening service was extremely challenging. It was difficult to manage public expectations while keeping the public and yourself safe in what was an already stretched service.
Data shows that overwhelmingly you maintained these vital services. In cases where programmes were compromised because of COVID-19, in particular newborn hearing, we want to thank you for the work to restore the programmes. You have done this, and continue to do so, with the support from your commissioners, the screening quality assurance service (SQAS) and national programmes.
Thank you for all that you did and are continuing to do to make our screening programmes the best in the world.
As we get back to some resemblance of normality, we want you to know that we take the health and wellbeing of staff extremely seriously. Our focus on this, together with recruitment and retention, is set out in the NHS 2021/22 priorities and operational planning guidance.
Anne Mackie, Director of PHE Screening, said:
Screening in the antenatal and newborn period is critical to baby and parents' wellbeing. Your commitment to maintaining the services and supporting those families to make the best choices during a global pandemic has been little short of extraordinary. I’m sure you will have received hundreds of thank yous from grateful parents, and I would like to add mine. Thank you.
Deborah Tomalin, Director of Public Health Commissioning and Operations in NHS England and NHS Improvement, said:
What has been achieved in maintaining our antenatal and newborn services through the pandemic is a real testament to the multi professional collaboration and partnership working within our NHS systems.
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.