SCoR responds to call for third trimester ultrasound scans
A tweet on social media website Twitter has asked the SCoR to comment on an online petition which calls for the Department of Health to routinely offer a third trimester ultrasound scan to all pregnant women.
The petition states that screening in the third trimester of pregnancy will save babies’ lives by checking amniotic fluid levels, fetal growth and position.
It says: “My baby's life could have been saved if I’d had an ultrasound scan late on into my third trimester. Women need to be monitored more closely near the end of their pregnancies, as this is where things can go wrong and stillbirth could be the devastating result.”
SCoR Professional Officer for Ultrasound Nigel Thomson comments: “The loss of a baby in the third trimester is devastating for the parents involved and we welcome the attention this petition will draw to the issues surrounding fetal health.
“However, there would need to be clear evidence that the possible benefits of screening in the third trimester would be cost effective and not cause more problems than it solves through unnecessary interventions.”
SCoR Chief Executive Richard Evans added: “Current RCOG and NICE guidelines do not recommend routine screening in the third trimester as there is no evidence that this will improve outcomes. While we support the spirit of the petition, more evidence is needed and there are workforce capacity issues which need to be addressed before additional screening can be introduced.
“There is currently a shortage of sonographers and the workforce is over-stretched. The SCoR is conducting work in this area, but until the issue is resolved there is no capacity to introduce routine screening in the third trimester, and any attempts to do so could compromise the service.”
As the petition has received over 10,000 signatures, the Department of Health has provided a response, which says: “Before an ultrasound scan in the third trimester could be considered, there would need to be clear evidence that it would be effective. Where organisations or individuals feel that there is enough published evidence to consider screening for a condition, they can suggest this to the UK National Screening Committee through its website at www.screening.nhs.uk.”
The e-petition will be open until 9 May 2013. If it passes the 100,000 signature threshold, the issue will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee.
Click here to access the petition.