The Quality improvement review of a screening event in the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Early Intervention Programme (UNHSEIP) details the findings into an incident which led to 2000 babies being recalled for newborn hearing screening.
Since 2010 all 20 district health boards (DHBs) have offered hearing screening to newborns as part of the UNHSEIP. The programme aims to identify babies with moderate to severe permanent hearing loss early, so they and their families can access timely intervention to support the development of speech and language.
An investigation by the National Screening Unit (NSU) found that some screeners at six DHBs had not carried out screening according to the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Early Intervention Programme protocol. The investigation identified that these screeners were not correctly testing the babies’ ears and therefore potentially missed detection of hearing loss.
The investigation has made 21 recommendations aimed at strengthening both DHB service provision and the leadership and monitoring of the programme by the NSU. These include:
- greater access to training
- professional development and support for screeners
- better monitoring of the equipment screeners use and the information they collect
- clearer guidance on following protocol
- establishing a clinical governance framework for the programme in DHBs
- setting up a national database for quality monitoring.