Height measurement at about the age of 3 years is accepted as a routine practice by all 15 Scottish health boards and is a recommendation of the Hall report Health for all Children. As part of a Scotland-wide project to assess the feasibility of audit of preschool surveillance programmes using routinely collected data, all boards were asked for information about this procedure. The results show that, while all boards confirmed its usefulness as a screening measure, only one board was realistically able to audit height measurement at this age at all stages using routinely available data. The whole screening process, including programme management, equipment validation, staff training and referral criteria, was examined using the quality standards defined in the Hall report. Results showed a wide variation between boards. For example, fewer than half of the boards provided guidelines for height measurement at age 3 to all professionals involved. The availability of even basic outcome data, such as numbers of children measured at this age was patchy, although this will improve with the introduction of the national computerised preschool surveillance system. Two boards have no plans to record such data routinely. In conclusion, before outcome data can be used and relied on, health boards and trusts need to develop local guidelines including quality standards such as age limits for measurement, programme management, provision of equipment, and review and referral criteria for inclusion into contracts.
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