Hospitals trust to pilot national scheme for treating newborns

DERBY Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been chosen to take part in a national NHS pilot to reduce the late diagnoses of children born with medical problems.

The pilot, which is taking place at the Royal Derby Hospital, is one of 21 others across the country, and of two in the East Midlands.

The pilot is being run by the NHS Newborn & Infant Physical Examination Programme (NIPE), established to facilitate early identification, diagnosis and treatment of children with medical conditions following the newborn and infant physical examination. For many years, parents of newborn babies in England have been offered a top-to-toe physical examination that included screening for medical conditions of the heart, hips, eyes and testes shortly after birth. For some children, late diagnosis means severe and traumatic treatment which could mean multiple operations over many years. Early detection can, in many cases, avoid that.

As part of the pilot, paediatricians, advanced neonatal practitioners and specifically trained midwives at the Royal Derby Hospital will perform the physical examination as before, but will record the results using a specially designed IT system that supports best practice. The NIPE Screening Management and Assessment Reporting Tool (SMART) highlights late or missed examinations, enables timely referrals, and tracks children through the healthcare system should further monitoring, investigation or treatment be needed.

Tracy Doucas, antenatal newborn screening specialist midwife at Derby Hospitals, said: “We are really pleased to be taking part in this pilot, which will mean that, if they need it, newborns and infants receive diagnosis and treatment within appropriate time frames, which are standardised by the NIPE Programme Centre. Early identification and intervention leads to better outcomes for children with physical anomalies and helps to prevent more long term problems.”

Dr Nigel Ruggins, consultant paediatrician at Derby Hospitals, said “This pilot will help equip us with an extra tool to provide the right care, first time for our young patients. Our patients deserve the best and we’re always looking at what we can do to provide high standards of care. This new system is a welcome addition to the already high levels of care we provide and will help us continue to monitor and improve the NIPE.”

After the pilot phase is completed at the end of 2011, a formal evaluation will be carried out. If the pilot is found to be successful then the NIPE Programme will offer the same improvements to all other newborn physical screening services throughout England.