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Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (HRCH)

What is the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP)

Permanent hearing loss can significantly affect a baby's development. Finding out early can give these babies a better chance of developing good speech and language and communication skills. It will also help babies make the most of relationships with their family or carers from an early age.

The newborn hearing screen helps to identify babies who have moderate, severe and profound deafness as early as possible. This means parents can get the support and advice they need right from the start.  The programme aims to screen babies within four to five weeks of birth. 

One to two babies in every 1,000 are born with permanent hearing loss in one or both ears. This increases in babies who have spent more than 48 hours in intensive care. Most of these babies are born into families with no history of permanent hearing loss.

What do we do?

HRCH Newborn Hearing Screening Service provides hearing screening at birth for the South West London (SWL) sector and surrounding areas. 

Our SWL newborn hearing screening team conducts hearing screening at the following hospital sites:

  • Croydon Hospital

  • Epsom Hospital

  • Kingston Hospital

  • St George’s Hospital

  • St Helier Hospital

  • The Portland Hospital 

When is the newborn hearing screen performed?

Ideally we aim to complete the screen in the first four weeks, but it can be done at up to three months of age.

You will be offered the hearing screen for your baby before discharge from the hospital or invited to attend an outpatient clinic appointment.  Please refer to the ‘useful documents’ section which outlines where the community clinics are held.

What does the screen involve?

The first screen is called AOAE (automated oto-acoustic emission).  For this screen a small soft tipped earpiece is placed in your baby’s ear and a soft clicking sound is presented.  When the ear receives sounds, the inner part (cochlea) responds and this can be picked up by the screening equipment.

It is not always possible to get clear responses from the first screen.  This does not necessarily mean your baby has a hearing loss.  It can mean:

  • Your baby was unsettled when the screen was performed 

  • There was background noise

  • Your baby has fluid or a temporary blockage in their ear – this is very common and passes with time. 

  • Your baby has a hearing loss

In these cases your baby will be offered another screen.  This may be at the same as the first screen or another type called the AABR (automated auditory brainstem response).  This involves placing 3 small sensors on your baby’s head, neck and shoulder.  Soft headphones are placed over your baby’s ears and soft clicking sounds are played.  This screen takes between 5 and 15 minutes.

Possible results:

If your baby has a clear response in both ears then they are unlikely to have a permanent hearing loss.  However, newborn hearing screening does not pick up all types of hearing loss and children can develop hearing loss later on.  It is important to check your child’s hearing as they grow up.  The checklist in your baby's personal child health record (red book) tells you how to do this.

You can also download two checklists: one that tells you what sounds your baby should make, and another that tells you what sort of sounds your baby should react to.

If you have any concerns about your child's hearing, tell your health visitor or GP.

If the screening test results do not show a clear response from 1 or both of your baby’s ears an appointment will be made with Audiology to see a hearing specialist. About 2 to 3 babies in every 100 do not show a clear response on the screening tests.  Being sent for further tests does not necessarily mean your baby has a hearing loss. 

You will be referred to your local Audiology department within 4 weeks of completing the hearing screen.  It is very important that you attend the appointment in case your baby has a hearing loss. 

Concerned that you may have missed the hearing screen?

If you are concerned that your baby has missed the hearing screen, please contact our head office on 020 8614 5337.  Full details can be found on the ‘contact us’ page.

South West London (SWL) Population system of care for the deaf children and young adults:

This system is the collaborative care network provided by care partners for  deaf children and young adults within Southwest London population

It networks  professionals& service users  involved in the screening, diagnosis, treatment and habitation of deaf children and young adults .Aims to improve the quality of care and outcomes for the deaf within SWL sector.

SWL population system organises regular events to improve communication, joint up working and care quality.

You can find information about the SWL network contacts here.

Related documents:

We run the Newborn Hearing Screening programmes, in South West London (Croydon Hospital, Kingston Hospital, St George’s Hospital, Epsom & St Helier Hospital and The Portland Hospital).

Contact details are as follows:

South West London Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (SWL)
Teddington Health & Social Care Centre
18 Queens Road
TW11 0LR

Tel: 020 8614 5337 – for appointments and enquiries

Email:  SWL.newbornhearing@nhs.net

Twitter: @SWL_NHSP

Opening times:

  • Monday to Sunday: 7am – 3.30pm (screening times). Screening is performed seven days a week, except for Christmas and New Year's Day. 
  • Monday to Friday: 9 - 4pm (administration)


Hounslow and Richmond Paediatric Audiology Service
Teddington Memorial Hospital
Hampton Rd
TW11 0JL
Tel: 020 8714 4108
Fax: 020 8714 4165
Email: hrch.audiology@nhs.net
Website: www.hrch.nhs.uk/audiology

Kingston Hospital Audiology Department
Audiology and ENT suite on Roehampton Wing
Galsworthy Road
Kingston upon Thames
Tel: 0208 934 6406

Epsom and St Helier Audiology Service
Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children
St Helier Hospital
Wrythe Lane
E-mail: audiology-sth@nhs.net

Croydon Audiology Service
530 London Road
Tel: 020 8401 3063
E-mail: ch-tr.Hearingcentre@nhs.net

St George’s Audiology Service
Blackshaw Road
SW17 0QT
Tel: 0208 725 6553

The hearing screen is usually carried out in the maternity unit of the hospital in which you gave birth (before you are discharged home). Any babies who miss the screen for whatever reason will be picked up in community clinics.

If your baby’s hearing has not been screened then please speak with your midwife, health visitor, local audiology department or family doctor.

There are certain occasions when your baby will not be offered the Newborn Hearing Screen – this will be discussed with you on an individual basis and the appropriate follow up action will be put into place.
  • Julie Hale - Divisional Manager
  • Geeta Ubhayakar - Team Leader SWL Newborn Hearing Screening Programme  and SWL Network
  • Alison Poxon – SWL Newborn Hearing Screening Programme Manager
  • Denise Evans - SWL Newborn Hearing Screening Local Manager
  • Michelle Thatcher - SWL Administrator and Screener 

Hearing screeners are fully trained on site. They undertake a training programme of e-learning, on the job training and complete an OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) at the end of their training period before they are able to screen independently.

All newly appointed screeners undertake the Level 3 Health Screener Diploma. All screeners have annual assessments of competency. 

The SWL service conducts patient satisfaction surveys on an annual basis, please see some of the feedback from our service users below.

  • The lady conducting the service was absolutely lovely. Not only did she explain the process but was extremely careful and gentle with the baby.

  • It's perfect

  • The Screener explained everything in detail and clearly to understand and she was very friendly. A breath of fresh air to talk to. It makes a huge difference when the staff are so friendly and make you feel at ease.

  • Excellent screening program

  • Staff have been so helpful!  Very nice service.

  • Is really good to have your baby tested then you can have peace of mind .

  • Efficient and very friendly.

  • As usually all staff are fantastic! :)

  • It's a good thing to test the baby’s hearing so if there is an issue it can be dealt with right away.

  • I was really impressed with the way the Screener explained the process and her professional manner of doing her job.

  • The Screener was very friendly, explained everything and was very gentle with our baby.

  • Very convenient that this is done during hospital stay.

  • Friendliness of staff made us feel relaxed

  • Very lovely lady. Gentle.

  • Amazing care from start to finish. All staff were very reassuring and made me feel at ease.

  • I found the support and staff amazing.

  • Very helpful and could help at an early stage if baby has hearing difficulties