I am strongly supportive of expanding our national newborn bloodspot programme.
Last year I approved the addition of a condition (ADA-SCID) to the Programme; other SCID types are now actively being formally assessed by HIQA, and work is ongoing on development of a pipeline of other conditions for formal assessment.
This is an area which can have a profound impact on the health and wellbeing of children and families, and it is important our approach is robust and in line with best international practice.
The work to expand the National Newborn Bloodspot Screening Programme is led by the National Screening Advisory Committee, an independent expert group which makes evidence-based recommendations to me.
As I mentioned, in 2020 I approved the addition of a condition known as ADA-SCID, which is a rare, inherited immune system disorder, to the Programme. The HSE is currently implementing this addition, bringing the number of conditions screened for by the Programme to nine.
The addition of other SCID types is currently being evaluated by the Committee. HIQA is undertaking a health technology assessment which will look at the evidence in a robust, systematic and transparent manner, and it is expected the Committee will have the findings of this review in 2022 to make recommendations to me.
Work is also being progressed by the Committee, working closely with my Department, the HSE, HIQA and other key stakeholders, including clinical experts and patient advocates, on further expansion of the Programme.
In addition, the Committee is currently conducting its first public call for suggested changes to screening programmes, including the newborn bloodspot screening programme. This is open until 23 December at gov.ie/screeningcall.
I look forward to further recommendations from the National Screening Advisory Committee on expansion of this important Programme in the coming year.