Guidance

Infectious diseases in pregnancy screening (IDPS): programme overview

Information on the programme, including the screening tests, commissioning, quality assurance, education and training.

Public information about IDPS is available on the NHS website.

Healthcare professionals, including midwives should offer and recommend screening to all pregnant women as part of their antenatal care.

Screening is a choice, however the early detection and treatment offered by screening can significantly reduce the chances of a mother passing on an infection to her baby in the period immediately before and after birth (vertical transmission).

The IDPS screening handbook informs and supports best clinical practice.

The IDPS laboratory handbook offers guidance for laboratories handling samples for the programme.

A template letter is available for maternity trusts to use for sending screening results to women who miscarry or choose to end their pregnancy.

Public Health England (PHE) is committed to reducing inequalities and variation in participation to help make sure everyone has fair and equal access to screening services.

PHE has also published information about patient confidentiality in population screening programmes.

Target population

Women are offered and recommended to have screening tests for infectious diseases in every pregnancy.

A blood test should be offered as early as possible in pregnancy to ensure timely referral and management of care.

Infections screened for

The IDPS programme currently screens for:

  • HIV
  • hepatitis B
  • syphilis

Each infection has a clear pathway to care. Healthcare professionals should be familiar with these pathways and the timeframes in which to refer patients.

Hepatitis B

Acute infectious hepatitis B is a notifiable disease in England and Wales.

Information is available on the diagnosis and vaccination of babies born to mothers with hepatitis B.

Screening test

The Screening tests for you and your baby leaflet sets out the test process and purpose.

Repeat testing is recommended if individuals:

  • change their sexual partner
  • inject drugs
  • are a sex worker
  • have an infected partner
  • have a partner who is sexually active with another person
  • are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI)

Evidence base

IDPS is one of 11 NHS national population screening programmes available in England.

The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) makes recommendations to ministers in the 4 UK countries on all aspects of population screening. It ensures that screening provides more benefit than harm, at a reasonable cost to the NHS.

Recommendations are based on internationally recognised criteria and a rigorous evidence review process.

Read the UK NSC recommendations relating to each of the following conditions covered by the IDPS programme:

Data and intelligence

PHE publishes reports setting out annual data collected from the IDPS programme.

For 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 data onwards, PHE publishes a joint antenatal screening standards data report.

Key performance indicator (KPI) data reports are available for all 11 national screening programmes.

The guidelines on handling patient information explain how to use and safeguard personal data in screening.

Data analysed through the Integrated Screening Outcomes Surveillance Service (ISOSS) allows PHE to assess the impact of the IDPS programme on the population.

Requests for screening data and research

All requests for access to IDPS data for research purposes need to be approved by the antenatal and newborn screening research advisory committee (RAC).

Any data enquiries related to a specific area should go via the PHE Screening helpdesk.

PHE also has terms of reference for NHS population screening programme RACs.

Commissioning

The purpose of the service specification for the IDPS programme (specification number 15) is to outline the service and quality indicators expected by NHS England.

Quality assurance

Guidance is available on the IDPS programme’s processes for ensuring a seamless and safe screening pathway.

The programme specific operating model for quality assurance of the IDPS programme should be read in conjunction with the latest SQAS operating model and the relevant programme standards.

Workforce education and training

Education and training resources are available for healthcare professionals working in IDPS screening.

There are also more general resources to support screening professionals in their initial training and continuing professional development.

Keep up to date

Visit the Public Health England (PHE) screening blog to keep up to date with what is new in the IDPS programme, including the latest guidance and good practice. You can register to receive blog updates direct to your inbox.

Follow PHE Screening on Twitter.

Contact the screening team

Population screening helpdesk

PHE Screening
Floor 5
Wellington House
133-155 Waterloo Road

London
SE1 8UG

The helpdesk is not for media enquiries and does not have access to screening results. For queries about results, contact your GP or local screening service. Order screening leaflets at www.gov.uk/phe/screening-leaflets.

Published 1 January 2015
Last updated 23 June 2020 + show all updates
  1. Changed text: 'have a bisexual partner' to 'have a partner who is sexually active with another person' in the list of circumstances where repeat testing is recommended.

  2. Updated to reflect cessation of rubella susceptibility in pregnancy screening from 1 April 2016.

  3. First published.