The Guthrie or ‘heel prick’ test is the first medical intervention for many a newborn. It has been part of the post-natal routine for 50 years and involves drawing a few drops of blood from the heel of an infant in their first days of life, and screening it for a range of medical disorders.

Newborn blood screening (NBS) checks for about 25 conditions and is estimated to save the lives of 35 babies in WA every year.

The Health Minister Roger Cook announced that NBS programs across Australia were to unite in their approach with Department of Health WA pivotal in the development of a national NBS policy framework, which was endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council.

Each jurisdiction is responsible for running and funding NBS but the framework sets out a nationally agreed vision and process.

“The framework provides clear, national approaches that will support future programs by ensuring they are well placed to respond to advances in science and technology while remaining safe and effective,” Mr Cook said.

“The new framework will also improve consistency, cost effectiveness, transparency and accountability of the individual programs, and enhance healthcare equity across the nation.”

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