Department of Health statement regarding NIPT

“Following a statement by the Department of Health, we now know that non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) will be made available across NHS maternity services in England at some point in 2018.

These tests will only be offered to women who have elected to have a predictive screening test and where the results of these have shown them to have a higher than 1 in 150 chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome.

The Down’s Syndrome Association will continue to campaign for pregnant women to be well supported throughout their antenatal, birth and post natal care by well trained health professionals, who can provide accurate, up-to-date and balanced information about the joys and challenges of having a child with Down’s syndrome. This information must be given without bias or direction and must include easily understood and relevant facts about living with Down’s syndrome today, the support available in the community and the potential impact on families.

The Down’s Syndrome Association’s training programme for health professionals called TELL IT RIGHT, which is accredited by The Royal College of Midwives, seeks to address the training needs of health professionals involved in providing information and direct support to pregnant women. This training is being delivered in maternity settings across England and will continue. The training includes the voice of individuals with Down’s syndrome, who share their experiences of living with Down’s syndrome and parents who share their experiences of accessing maternity services.

The Down’s Syndrome Association welcomes the commitment of Dr Anne Mackie (Director of Programmes for the UK National Screening Committee) to closely manage the roll out to ensure there is a better understanding of the impact NIPT may have upon the decisions women and their families make following their test results.

The Down’s Syndrome Association has been invited to work with The Education and Training Group of the Foetal Anomaly Steering Group (FASP) to ensure that women and their families are provided with current, unbiased information about Down’s syndrome by appropriately trained health care professionals.”