Children under 12 to be banned from pregnancy scans at Norwich hospital
Children under the age of 12 will no longer be allowed to attend pregnancy scans at the region's largest hospital, in order to help the sonographer do their job.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) is the only hospital in Norfolk to make the move, which will come into force on September 1.
Although the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH), in Gorleston, and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn, both restrict the number of people who can be present at the scan.
A spokesman for NNUH said: 'A sonogram is a medical examination and its purpose is to check the health of a baby. These scans are used to check the size of the baby and estimate a due date, check how the baby is growing, understand the position of the baby and to detect any potential abnormalities.
'In order to carry out all appropriate tests and measurements, our sonographers need the right environment to concentrate and focus on performing these checks. Restricting the potential distractions and number of visitors, including children, in the room during the examination enables our teams to perform the scan effectively and there are multiple hospitals who restrict this to only one guest.
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'It may be necessary for our teams to discuss a woman's medical history, or to perform a transvaginal scan, an internal examination allowing further investigation of the reproductive organs. Discussing information of this nature can be necessary during the appointment and we are conscious that women may not feel comfortable sharing this with a wider group.
'On a daily basis it is necessary for us to discuss additional testing or issues with a baby's health. On these occasions, it is essential that we can protect a woman's privacy and have the opportunity to fully explain the situation and answer any questions.'
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The spokesman said it had been necessary in the past to ask people to leave the scan room.
He added: 'Although we can appreciate this is disappointing, it is important that we maintain an appropriate environment for our staff to work in, conducive to performing scans to the best of their ability.'
A spokesman for JPUH said: 'We have no age limits on attendance at scans but we do say only two people can accompany the lady having the scan. We do, however, let parents know that children may have to leave if they are disruptive as the scan requires high levels of concentration from the sonographer.'
QEH chief nurse Emma Hardwick added: 'Ultrasound scans are important examinations, so it is vital that the sonographers are able to concentrate. Children under 12 are allowed into the examination room, but we ask if they are causing a disruption for another adult to take them outside into the waiting room. We also limit the number of people in the examination room to two. These guidelines are in place to ensure that our sonographers are able to provide the maximum level of concentration during this important medical examination.'
It comes as a Norwich couple, who wished to remain anonymous, said they were put out after being asked to pay £4 for a copy of the scan of their unborn baby at NNUH.
JPUH and QEH also charge for the pictures, £3 and £5 respectively.
But all hospitals said this was to cover the cost of producing the mementos.
An NNUH spokesman said: 'Purchasing a scan picture is optional and many women chose to take home multiple pictures to share with family and friends. The charge for photos covers the administration costs of offering this service and this is standard practice within hospitals.'
A JPUH spokesman said: 'The charge covers various costs involved in producing the picture, including the gloss printing paper used for the image, and the cardboard wallet used to hold it.'
Ms Hardwick, from QEH, added: 'Like many hospitals across the country, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital does charge £5 for ultrasound pictures to cover printing costs. Our sonographers see on average 30 patients each day and to offer a free picture service would place a financial burden on the trust.'