Thinking small for success: Hutt Valley DHB’s Newborn Hearing Screening quality improvement journey

Sandra Hoggarth1, Kyle Bolland1

1UNHSEIP Program, Hutt Valley District Health Board, Lower Hutt, New Zealand


Hearing screening programmes typically focus on the big picture, for example in New Zealand our national programme monitoring targets (other than the 100% universal offer of screening) are typically and realistically some would say, set at around achieving 95-97% or better. At Hutt Valley DHB we have undertaken a series of improvement projects over several years with a focus on the small, the  3-5% of babies that for various reasons were not either starting or if started not completing the newborn hearing screening pathway.

This presentation is a summary of our journey through the challenges of DNA & decline under the lense of ethnicity, engagement, equity and access barriers – a shared experience across all newborn hearing screening programmes internationally. What we discovered worked and didn’t work along the way and the power that comes from putting the “baby patient” at the centre of everything we do. It aims to share some small ideas from a small urban screening programme that were big to our success.


Sandra Hoggarth is currently employed as the coordinator for the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Early Intervention Program at Hutt Valley District Health Board offering hearing screening to 2000 families per year. Sandra has been involved with the program for 10 years being initially appointed in the role of team leader when the Hutt Valley program first started in 2009. Sandra is a qualified and current newborn hearing screener and national screener trainer.