The NHS is going to roll out a same-day life-saving test for pregnant women to rule out pre-eclampsia – a life-threatening condition.
Known as placental growth factor (PLGF) testing, the new blood test is the first of its kind in the world and has already helped thousands of expectant mothers with quick diagnosis.
It will significantly reduce the need for hospital trips, freeing up clinics and staff workload, as nearly 65,000 pregnant women are admitted to hospital every year for up to three days to be monitored for the condition.
The new testing is being rolled out as part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s aim to invest in more ‘world-class’ treatments and cutting-edge technologies.
Currently, three-quarters of maternity units are using the test, and it will be available across all of England within the next two years.
NHS director of innovation, research and life sciences Matt Whitty said: “This test is quick and easy and can rule out a condition that has for a long time been the of cause such stress to tens of thousands of pregnant women every year, whether they have pre-eclampsia or not.
“This latest innovation will benefit thousands of patients who have until now been put through extensive testing and possible hospital stays as the NHS continues to deliver on ambitious Long Term Plan commitments to provide patients with the most up to date tech, as quickly as possible.”
Women experiencing symptoms, such as high blood pressure and headaches, which usually occur in the second half of pregnancy, will be advised by their GP or midwife to go for the test as part of a full clinical assessment.
Treatments involve medication for high blood pressure or in extreme cases, anticonvulsants to prevent fits if the baby is due.