Non-invasive pre-natal testing is not currently offered routinely for screening women in pregnancy for Down’s syndrome and other trisomy conditions within the NHS. However, it is available to detect genetic changes leading to specific skeletal abnormalities and certain forms of cystic fibrosis. The UK national screening committee has reviewed the case for implementing NIPT as part of the existing foetal anomaly screening programme and will provide its advice shortly.
NIPT is not currently offered for Down’s syndrome routinely within the NHS. Some NHS trusts have piloted the test for screening and a number of maternity units offer NIPT privately. NIPT is available through the NHS to detect genetic changes leading to specific skeletal abnormalities and also to detect certain forms of cystic fibrosis.
The UK national screening committee—UK NSC—which advises Ministers and the NHS in the UK about all aspects of screening policy, has reviewed the case for implementing NIPT as part of the existing NHS foetal anomaly screening programme and will provide its advice in the new year.
At my 12-week scan, I was told that I faced a risk of Down’s syndrome in my child. I was given two options. One was an invasive test available on the NHS—the amniocentesis test, which carried a risk of miscarriage. The second was a non-invasive test, which was not available on the NHS and cost £400. Does the Minister agree that the non-invasive test should be rolled out across the country so that mothers, regardless of wealth, can have equal access to screening and do not have to face the unnecessary risk of miscarriage?
I thank the hon. Lady for bringing her personal experience to the House, and I hope that all is well. She will understand that screening has to be a non-political matter. That is why we have a specific, clinically led committee to look at whether a screening programme should be implemented. It has been looking at NIPTs over the past year and will be making its decision very shortly. On the principle, though, I completely agree with her; it lies at the foundation of the NHS and we support it.