The physical examinations form part of the updated Healthy Child Programme in the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity (Department of Health 2004; Department of Health 2007), and are included in the NICE clinical guidelines for the NHS: Routine postnatal care of women and their babies (NICE 2006). The NICE clinical guidelines on postnatal care cover the core care that every healthy woman and healthy baby should be offered during the first 6 to 8 weeks after the birth.
The newborn and infant physical examinations have been undertaken routinely in NHS hospitals for many years but until March 2008 (and the launch of the Newborn and Infant Physical Examination Standards and Competencies, March 2008 there was little national guidance on the standards and competencies necessary to deliver a good service. The Standards are currently (summer 2012) are undergoing a full review.
The Standards make clear that, “The professional qualification of the person(s) delivering the various aspects of this programme is less important than the quality of their initial and continuing training, audit and self-monitoring”. Hence, [the] “examinations should therefore be performed by a suitably trained and competent healthcare professional who has appropriate levels of ongoing clinical experience”.
The NHS Newborn and Infant Physical Examination Programme (NIPE) is responsible for promoting improvements and consistency in the newborn and physical examinations. Over the next few years we will undertake a programme of work to:
- raise awareness of the Programme, and the need to adhere to national standards and competencies, amongst healthcare professionals and other stakeholders
- highlight to local NHS organisations the requirement for robust data capture from the examinations and for monitoring and auditing their service performance as well as how the national NIPE Programme can support them in achieving these things
- evaluate work undertaken with local NHS organisations to improve the quality, timeliness and consistency of the newborn examinations.
To help keep healthcare professionals informed about progress a timeline of activity will be available on this website, outlining progress and milestones.
If you have any questions about the NIPE Programme you may find the answers in our question and answer section. If you can't find the answer to your question do contact us and we'll do our best to help. In addition, other information about the NIPE Programme is available here.
See also Evidence.
Hall & Elliman 2006, p337
UK National Screening Committee Newborn and Infant Physical Examination Standards and Competencies, March 2008, p5