The National Screening Advisory Committee (NSAC) was established in 2019 as an independent advisory committee to play a strategic role in the development and consideration of population-based screening programmes in Ireland. The role of the NSAC is to provide advice to the Minister for Health and Department of Health on new screening proposals and proposed changes to existing screening programmes. The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) directorate within the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has been requested by the Department of Health to provide evidence synthesis support to the NSAC under an agreed work programme.
Newborn bloodspot screening (NBS), or, the 'heel prick test', is completed in the first 72 to 120 hours of life and is provided under the National Newborn Bloodspot Screening Programme (NNBSP). The current programme screens for eight conditions, with a ninth condition under implementation as of June 2021.
At the request of the NSAC, HIQA performed a review of international processes in use to inform policy-making on the expansion of NBS programmes. This report was provided to the NSAC to help inform the development of their processes for the assessment of conditions being considered for inclusion in Ireland’s NBS programme.