April 07 at 08:00
Hundreds of babies are being recalled for repeat hearing tests after hospital chiefs in Yorkshire uncovered faults in routine checks on newborn children. A total of 680 infants are affected by the alert issued by officials at the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.
Managers have launched an investigation into some tests carried out in hospital over nearly 12 months until January this year under the NHS newborn hearing screening programme. Specialists say the risk of hearing loss going undetected is “low” but are offering repeat tests to those affected. A serious incident has been declared by the NHS trust which is writing to parents as part of a recall of babies. Nearly 6,000 babies are born each year under the care of staff at the trust. The alert affects some born between February 2016 and January 17 this year. In a statement, the trust said during a routine audit officials had discovered some hearing tests on newborn babies “may not have been carried out correctly”. Head of midwifery, Anne-Marie Henshaw, added: “There is a low risk that any hearing loss may have gone undetected, however, as a precaution we are encouraging all parents who receive a letter from the trust to have their baby re-screened. “We are very sorry we have had to take this action as a precautionary measure and have also launched our own internal investigation and taken appropriate action to prevent it from happening again.”
The screening test is designed to identify babies with permanent hearing loss as early as possible to give parents immediate support and is normally carried out within five weeks. Around eight million babies have been tested in England since screening began in 2002. Official figures show between one and two in every 1,000 babies suffer from permanent hearing loss in one or both ears although it affects one in 100 of those who have spent more than 48 hours in intensive care. Permanent hearing loss can significantly affect a baby’s development and detecting it early gives them a better chance of developing language, speech and communications skills.