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Pregnancy: Screening

Question for Department of Health

UIN HL3062, tabled on 7 November 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which groups the Department of Health met before making the decision to introduce non-invasive prenatal testing on the NHS.

Answered on

21 November 2016

The Department takes advice on all aspects of screening from the independent UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) and has met with its Secretariat to discuss its recommendation on non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes as an additional test in the current NHS Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme.

NIPT presents a more accurate and safer screen for Down’s syndrome and reduces the need for diagnostic invasive prenatal testing, which carries a risk of miscarriage. Modelling suggests that NIPT, as an additional test in the current screening pathway will result in the number of women offered invasive prenatal diagnosis (IPD) tests reducing from 7,910 to 1,434, leading to a reduction in IPD-related miscarriage of pregnancies from 46 to 3 per year. The new test will be offered to pregnant women whose chance of having a baby with Down’s, Edwards’ or Patau’s syndromes is greater than 1 in 150.

As is standard practice, the UK NSC held a three month public consultation to enable stakeholders to feed into the review. 30 responses were received to the consultation from a wide range of stakeholders. A copy of the responses to the consultation is attached.

The Department is satisfied that the screening programme is compliant with its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and that the Programme is compliant with any obligations under the Equality Act.