The costs of prenatal screening services in England

In response to question from Fiona Bruce MP, the Department of Health has published estimates of the costs of prenatal screening in England.

The Chair of the UK Parliamentary Inquiry into Abortion on the Grounds of Disability, Fiona Bruce MP, recently tabled a question requesting the costs of prenatal screening for Down syndrome. In reply, the Department of Health provided estimated costs of the National Health Service Foetal Anomaly Screening Programme – which includes screening for Down syndrome. These offer a base, lower and upper scenarios at 2009/10 and 2010/11 prices for England:

Base case Lower Upper
2009-10 prices 2010-11 uplift 2009-10 prices 2010-11 uplift 2009-10 prices 2010-11 uplift
Estimates of birth used 671,058 650,000 700,000
Central coordination 1,895,735 2,000,000 1,895,735 2,000,000 1,895,735 2,000,000
Total screening strategy from the offer to the screening results 17,080,673 18,020,110 16,544,677 17,454,634 17,817,344 18,797,298
Invasive diagnostic procedure (CVS / amniocentesis) 7,802,120 8,231,237 7,557,287 7,972,938 8,138,617 8,586,241
Cost of healthy foetal loss 93,600 98,748 90,663 95,649 97,637 103,007
Cost of those T+ who terminate 486,739 513,510 471,461 497,391 507,732 535,657
Total cost of T21 screening population live births 983,759 1,037,866 952,889 1,005,298 1,026,188 1,082,628
Total screening pathway cost 28,342,626 29,901,470 27,512,712 29,025,911 29,483,253 31,104,831
Total cost, excluding continued pregnancies 27,358,867 28,863,604 26,559,823 28,020,613 28,457,065 30,022,203

In 2010/11, approximately 850 babies who would have been born with Down syndrome were not born as a consequence of the screening programme. I therefore estimate the cost of each live birth ‘prevented’ to be around £34,000.