Valuing the benefits and harms of antenatal and newborn screening programmes in health economic assessments (VALENTIA)
During pregnancy and the newborn period, women in the UK are offered a number of tests that tell them how likely it is that their babies have a number of genetic or physical conditions. These tests are called ‘screening’, and include the 12 week dating scan, 20 week anomaly scan, and the newborn blood spot (‘heel prick’) tests that look for conditions such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease.
Providing thousands of screening tests and care for women and babies is very expensive to the NHS so it is important that the screening programmes represent good value for money. The process of comparing the costs and benefits of a screening programme is called a health economic assessment. It is one of the tools that the UK National Screening Committee (UKNSC, the body that makes recommendations to government on population screening) uses to decide whether to recommend a screening programme.
There is some concern about how accurately health economic assessments have incorporated and valued benefits and harms of current or new antenatal/newborn screening programmes. For example, it is challenging to value the benefits and harms of programmes that can lead decisions to terminate a pregnancy.
Our study will aim to investigate approaches to health economic assessment that have been used and provide recommendations about whether they are appropriate or if a new framework for economic assessment is needed.