Kettering hospital's baby screening service given 22 recommendations for improvement

File picture
File picture

Assessors have given Kettering General Hospital's antenatal and newborn screening department a list of key recommendations to help improve services.

Public Health England quality assurance inspectors assessed the Rothwell Road hospital for the first time in five years to check to standard of screening programmes that forewarn parents if there could be something wrong with their baby.

The hospital was found to be meeting targets but was told to improve in several areas.

KGH said they have already addressed all of the issues and processes are in place to ensure the improvements are made.

The assessors highlighted four areas of high priority at the hospital; that women who are found to have twin pregnancies are not offered additional counselling to discuss the limitations of quadruple screening; nuchal translucency ultrasound images showed a higher than expected level of poor images; women who miscarry or terminate their pregnancy who have had screening tests do not receive their screening results and the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme sends patient data via the use of unsecure communications.

The Quality Assurance team found no immediate concerns but made 22 recommendations to ensure that all pregnant women and new parents get a high-quality service from the hospital.

The hospital offers babies six antenatal and newborn screening tests that look for a range of serious conditions including Down's syndrome, Edwards' syndrome, Patau's syndrome, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease

In 2018 to 2019 there were 3,924 women booked for delivery and 3,292 babies born at KGH.

KGH Maternity Matron Polly Leigh, said: “Each year we support about 3,900 women through their pregnancy and this involves carrying out a range of national screening tests both during pregnancy and after a baby is born.

“These help identify people at higher chance of giving birth to a baby with conditions such as Down’s syndrome.

“Every three years we take part in a screening quality assurance visit which helps us to further improve the screening service we provide to local people.

“The most recent quality visit identified no immediate concerns but does recommend ways in which we can further improve our service.

“Four areas have been highlighted as a priority. One was not having a dedicated clinic for women having twins – and so we now have plans to introduce one within the next three months.

“The visit showed that some of our ultrasound images of babies were not as good as they could be so we will be carrying an ongoing audit programme to identify how we can improve our imaging.

“If images are not good enough quality we would a repeat scan – it doesn’t mean there is any increased risk to a mum.

“Traditionally we would not have sent blood test results within the normal range to mums if they have had a miscarriage. But now national guidance suggests we should send them a letter – even if results are normal – and we have now developed a letter to do this.

“The fourth issue regarding hearing screening results has been resolved by using a secure NHS email account.”