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Improvements to newborn hearing screening

Hon Jo Goodhew
Associate Minister of Health

8 May 2014

Improvements to newborn hearing screening

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew says two reports on newborn hearing screening released today should give parents confidence in the programme.

“The first report, National Screening Unit and District Health Boards’ Progress on Implementing the 21 Recommendations, shows good progress is being made in implementing the recommendations from a quality improvement review released in January 2013,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Over half of the recommendations have been completed, with many now part of business as usual, while the rest are nearing completion.”

The National Screening Unit (NSU) has been working closely with DHBs to action the recommendations and strengthen the programme.

The quality improvement review followed a screening incident that led to over 2000 babies being retested for hearing loss. To date, nine children have been identified during the rescreening process with some degree of hearing loss. Audiology assessments for the final few children being rescreened are due to be completed by the end of this month.

“I am pleased that these hearing issues have now been picked up, with appropriate support and intervention options made available to the affected families,” says Mrs Goodhew.

The second report released today, Review of newborn hearing screening regimes and associated screening devices, is an independent review of the screening test, which was one of the 21 recommendations.

“The independent review has made several useful suggestions, all of which are to be taken up, and which will help further improve and streamline the programme,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“All parents want the best for their babies and I understand that many will have been concerned by the screening incident that occurred. I hope that these reports released today help ensure public confidence in this important screening programme,” says Mrs Goodhew.

Copies of both reports released today can be found on the NSU website www.nsu.govt.nz

Additional information
Around 60,000 newborn babies are screened each year through the free newborn hearing screening programme.

Summary of progress implementing the 21 recommendations:
• 12 have been completed.
• 5 are substantially complete and will be completed by December 2014
• 1 is underway and will be completed by July 2015
• 2 have been superseded by an independent report on the screening regime also released today and will be implemented as part of this
• 1 is ongoing until all of the recommendations are complete.

A summary table is available here.


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