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NHS: Neonatal Screening

Volume 685: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will commission a national clinical framework for sickle cell and thalassaemia to help ensure that the potential benefits of the national newborn screening programme are fully realised.[HL7242]

The implementation of the screening programmes for sickle cell and thalassaemia has raised the profile of the conditions and increased the demand for services with increased numbers of cases being identified. A range of work is in hand to support clinicians responsible for patients with thalassaemia and sickle cell and help to ensure that patients have access to the same quality of care, including neonates identified by the screening programme.

A professional group led by the British Society for Haematology (on behalf of the British Committee for Standards in Haematology), and the UK Forum on Haemoglobin Disorders and supported by the Department of Health and the voluntary sector has developed national standards for the clinical care of children with sickle cell disease due for publication later this year. Standards for the clinical care of children and adults with thalassaemia in the UK were published in June 2005. The guidelines were sponsored by the UK Thalassaemia Society and endorsed by the department.

A clinical network has now been established to ensure that the potential benefits of the screening programme are achieved and that the complications that require specialist care are managed in the right place with appropriate resources. Around 20 centres will provide comprehensive care, standardising and improving care in this area.