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ObjectiveTo identify variations in current antenatal screening programmes across one region and compare results with a previous survey.DesignA cross section descriptive survey.SettingAll maternity units within the region of Northern Ireland.SampleEleven maternity units were invited and ten agreed to participate.Main outcome measuresThe number of written policies for individual screening tests; the range of screening tests offered; the frequency of training opportunities for health professionals; and the information systems in place to record data.ResultsThere is variation in service provision across maternity units and, in particular, inconsistency in the offer of serum screening tests for Down syndrome. A lack of training opportunities for health professionals involved in offering screening was highlighted, and no common information system employed.ConclusionWhile improvements have been made since 2002, variations persist. This is leading to inequalities in the provision of antenatal screening services across Northern Ireland.


Journal article


The Ulster medical journal

Publication Date





12 - 15


School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen's University Belfast 21 Stranmillis Road, Belfast BT9 5EF.


Humans, Down Syndrome, Prenatal Diagnosis, Mass Screening, Health Care Surveys, Cross-Sectional Studies, Program Evaluation, Pregnancy, Geography, Health Policy, Maternal Welfare, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Hospitals, Maternity, Northern Ireland, Female, Statistics as Topic