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Newborn hearing screening strengthened

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says newborn babies across New Zealand are now benefitting from an improved hearing screening programme as a result of the implementation of the 2013 review.

Minister of Health Dr Jonathan Coleman

Minister of Health Dr Jonathan Coleman

“Over 55,000 newborn babies are screened each year through the hearing programme. Early detection of hearing loss means appropriate intervention can be provided,” says Dr Coleman.

“Good progress is being made on implementing the 21 quality improvement recommendations of the 2013 review on the newborn hearing screening programme.

“DHBs have done a great job implementing these changes. The progress report released today shows the National Screening Unit (NSU) and DHBs have implemented 15 recommendations. Another four are ongoing, and two have been superseded.

“A key improvement is the move to one type of testing equipment across the country. DHBs have been able to take advantage of the savings from a national contract. All screeners are being trained and supported.

“Another major change is the type of screening and the number of steps in the process which is in line with many overseas programmes. This is the most significant change to the programme since it began in 2010.”

The NSU and DHBs are also developing a national information system which will be compatible with the maternity clinical information system. This will make monitoring, evaluation and follow-up easier at a local and national level.

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