Nurses and midwives may have to rescreen up to 66,000 babies because their NHS number was left off screening results for rare conditions, the UK Newborn Screening Programme Centre has warned.
The national newborn blood spot screening programme is open to all newborns and uses a heel-prick test to screen for five rare but potentially dangerous conditions, including cystic fibrosis and phenylketonuria.
But screening programme manager Cathy Coppinger told Nursing Times that in over 10 per cent of cases last year, the NHS number used to identify each infant was left off the blood spot test cards – in some cases rendering them useless.
She said: “We could discover a baby has a disorder but we cannot inform the parents.”
Although the infant’s name and address was usually on the results card, she said such details often within the first few weeks of their birth – making tracking them down without an NHS number hard.
The blood tests are usually carried out by midwives or neonatalintensive care nurses. The national screening programme is so concerned about the number of tests done without a number that it has said that from April this year any test results submitted without a number will be subject to mandatory retesting.
Based on the number missing last year, some 66,000 babies will need to be tracked down and retested over the next year.
Ms Coppinger said: “It’s got to be avoided. It would be very expensive; it’s not kind to babies and its avoidable. We should just get it right first time.”