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BBC investigates concerns over private ‘souvenir’ scans

News 19 November 2020

A BBC News Investigation has looked into failures in the diagnosis of serious medical issues during private baby scans.

The investigation found that while some companies are clear they don’t offer diagnostic scans, some still advertise packages including what they call a ‘reassurance’ scan.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which inspects studios, says there is good quality care in the industry as a whole but it has a “growing concern”. The CQC has produced some useful guidance on their website for women considering a private scan.


Commenting on the investigation, Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

“We agree the issues raised in this BBC investigation are concerning and would welcome a review into how women receive their information about private scans.

“The NHS ultrasound scans offered at around 12 and 20 weeks of pregnancy are the safest way to monitor a baby’s health and growth and look for any potential complications.

“We understand that for some woman, especially those who have previously miscarried, an additional private scan in early pregnancy offers an extra level of reassurance. But these scans should never be instead of the routine ultrasound examinations offered by the NHS. If women experience bleeding, cramping or pain during early pregnancy, it is essential they contact their GP, midwife or Early Pregnancy Unit straight away for advice.

“Restrictions during the pandemic have meant many women had to attend pregnancy scans alone and in some cases, women and their partners are choosing to have a scan done privately so they can experience the moment together and receive a ‘souvenir’ style photo. While not recommended, we understand that choosing to have a pregnancy scan without a diagnostic purpose is down to personal choice.

“What is most important when it comes to private scans is that women and their partners fully understand what type of scan the sonographer is doing. Whilst some private scanning companies can offer a full diagnostic check to make sure the pregnancy is progressing normally- others aren't able to provide the same service and won't pick up on problems with the woman or their baby.

“It could cause immense problems if people believe the scan will check for any potential complications when it’s purely to get a good photograph. Private companies have a duty of care to ensure their customers know what type of scan they are paying for.”