Ireland’s Health Service Executive has awarded a €6m contract to Northgate Information Solutions to roll-out its newborn hearing screening service across the country.

The service, which is implemented in the South, will now be installed in Ireland’s remaining 13 maternity hospitals so 75,000 babies can be screened every year.

The move involves a partnership between the company, the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme Centre and the hearing test equipment provider GN Otometrics.

It will ensure that babies are screened within hours of birth, and should improve detection rates in comparison to the traditional nine month distraction tests.

Brian Murphy, national primary care and social inclusion services manager for the Health Service Executive, with a lead role for audiology, said that he was delighted with the partnership, which will support a “re-organisation” of audiology services to promote smarter ways of working.

“The commitment by the audiology and maternity services has enabled us to establish this truly life changing service for hearing impaired babies in such a short period of time,” he said.

“I look forward to the continued success of this partnership to achieve our shared goals of a completed National Universal Newborn Hearing Screening programme by 2013.”

At Cork University Maternity Hospital, the service has reduced the detection, diagnosis and intervention for hearing impaired children from over 30 months to less than three months.

The success of the Cork service, which screens over 9,000 babies, resulted in Northgate’s implementation and delivery team being awarded the Astellas Changing Tomorrow Award 2012, which recognises the outstanding achievements of individuals or teams working in health.

Alan Campbell, head of screening solutions at Northgate said: “We are delighted that this service is now being extended to cover the whole of the Republic of Ireland.

“We hope this shows other healthcare organisations how the expertise within the HSE coupled with the service innovation within the private sector can be harnessed to support the changing face of healthcare delivery”.

The screening service is set to be available to all newborn babies in Ireland by early 2013.