Call for change to Wigan’s antenatal and newborn screening services

Around 3,000 women last year booked in for maternity care in the borough
Around 3,000 women last year booked in for maternity care in the borough

Wigan’s antenatal and newborn screening services need several “high priority” changes, according to Public Health England.

A report published by the government health authority this month has raised several concerns regarding Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh’s current screening programmes - which are commissioned by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.

The purpose of the PHE visit, which was carried out back in November, was to ensure that all eligible pregnant women and new mums receive a “consistent high-quality service” wherever they live.

Screening programmes are signed to identify apparently healthy people who might be at increased risk of a disease or condition with the hope of getting patients early access to treatment.

Following their visit, PHE officials described the staff as “dedicated and committed to continuous improvements” but also highlighted a number of areas where changes must be made within the next three months.

The report reads: “The WWL antenatal and newborn screening operational group is not an effective group.

“Some guidelines and policies do not reflect current national guidance.

“There is no assurance that staff are up to date with mandatory training requirements.

“Access to the electronic record is limited in some areas causing an inequity for a small number of women who book out of area.”

The report also flagged up the recent repatriation of “newborn hearing and child health organisation screening services” back to the WWL Trust from Bridgewater Community Health Trust.

Despite making a number of recommendations to remedy these problems, the PHE agents praised the service leaders for delivering “patient-centred” services. The quality assurance visit team found several areas where practice could be shared.

The report states: “A newborn bloodspot screening champion is available in each midwifery team.”

Teams were also praised for improving attendance at audiology appointments by implementing a “ring and remind” service. The PHE team has asked for an action plan to complete the recommendations within the report.