An investigation has found that the vast majority of private baby scan clinics in Scotland are unregistered, sparking concerns that staff may be unqualified to interpret foetal scans.
A probe conducted by the news website The Ferret, found that only five out of 45 clinics operating north of the border were registered with and inspected by Health Improvement Scotland due to anomaly in regulatory policy.
“A loophole in regulation means only those private clinics run by healthcare professionals, a categorisation that does not include sonographers, are required to register with and be inspected by Healthcare Improvement Scotland. The remaining clinics are likely to be run solely by sonographers or, in some cases, those without full training or qualifications,” says The Ferret’s reporter Eve Livingstone.
Gill Harrison, the SoR’s professional officer for ultrasound, said the Society had been “concerned about the use of ultrasound by unqualified, untrained staff for some time.”
“Ultrasound examinations require highly skilled professionals to perform complex checks on the baby to make sure that everything appears as expected for the stage of pregnancy,” she said.
“If expectant parents are thinking of booking private scans in pregnancy we would strongly advise them to ask what qualifications the ultrasound practitioners have,"
“Whilst we are aware that some clinics offer scans solely to provide an opinion on the sex of the baby, the SoR would still expect that the person carrying out the scan is competent to check that the baby is in the correct location, has a heartbeat and has no obvious unexpected physical conditions.
“If expectant parents are thinking of booking private scans in pregnancy we would strongly advise them to ask what qualifications the ultrasound practitioners have, but also to continue to attend for their routine NHS screening scans.”
The Ferret said that some private ultrasound clinics in Scotland offer “a recreational experience where expectant parents can purchase souvenirs such as teddy bears with their baby’s heartbeat, framed scans, or ‘gender reveal’ products”.
“Others suggest they offer ‘reassurance’ scans for those with concerns, gender confirmation scans or early scans,” says the website.
Teaser and header images: Marko Geber, Getty Images
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