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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Improvements in North Cumbria Hospital Trust's antenatal & newborn screening programme

Improvements in North Cumbria Hospital Trust's antenatal & newborn screening programme

Posted on Thursday 18th February 2016

Janine Lawson and Claire Gardener, antenatal screening coordinators

The antenatal and newborn screening programmes at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, are continuing to offer an improved service as reported by a recent inspection.

Public Health England’s Screening Quality Assurance Service carried out a routine inspection in order to ensure standards are being maintained and to promote continuous improvement. The team found several areas of good practice in North Cumbria’s hospitals including:

‘Good communication between the local laboratory and the screening coordinators, ensuring results are acted upon in a timely manner’

‘Haematology and microbiology have effective risk management policies in place and a positive incident reporting culture’

Janine Lawson and Claire Gardener, antenatal screening coordinators at the Trust, had been in post only a few months before the inspection was conducted. They worked tirelessly to meet all the recommendations outlined and improve what is already recognised as a good service.

Antenatal and newborn screening programmes cover a wide range of areas such as infectious diseases, sickle cell & thalassaemia, down’s syndrome and fetal anomalies, newborn bloodspot screening and newborn hearing screening. The benefits of screening can lead to early treatment if required which can improve the baby’s health, prevent disability or death.

The latest results for the Trust include:

The proportion of women tested timely (within 10 weeks) for HIV was at 94 % and has increased to 97 %

The number of women tested for sickle cell and thalassaemia within 10 weeks was 58.9% and is now 63.7 %

Newborn infant physical examination checks within 72 hours is at 99%

Janine Lawson, antenatal and newborn screening co-ordinator specialist midwife, said: “The work we’ve been putting in is really helping to improve our screening programme, but we must also praise the work that all  midwifery staff have been putting in, as this is what is really helping to improve our screening programmes and ensure these vital tests are carried out to the highest possible standards.

“Early detection of potentially life threatening conditions saves lives and we will continue to work to improve our service even further.”

Christina Cuncarr, associate director of midwifery, said: “The importance of these tests cannot be underestimated. Early detection can assist parents to make informed decisions about care and treatment affecting the health of their baby. I would like to say a huge well done to the team for all of their hard work and commitment.”