State-of-the art scans will help reduce stillbirths

Burnley General Hospital. (s)

Burnley General Hospital. (s)

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Pregnant women from across East Lancashire are set to benefit from £80m. state-of-the-art scan training equipment to help reduce the number of stillbirths.

The Medaphor scan trainer is being jointly funded by stillbirth charity Friends of Serenity, which has raised £25,000, and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust’s own charitable funds.

The scan trainer will be used to teach staff how to carry out vital growth scans, which can help detect when a baby is not growing properly. Currently expectant mums have to wait for growth scans because of a national and local shortage of sonographers but the new equipment can be used by specially trained midwife sonographers.

Angela O’Toole, head of midwifery at the Trust, said: “We would like to thank the Friends of Serenity who have been fantastic in raising £25,000.

“We have been focused on trying to prevent stillbirths and are aware that one of the preventable causes of stillbirth is intrauterine growth retardation where babies have not grown properly.

“Where IUGR is suspected following measurement of the womb then women are referred for a special growth scan.

“However, because of a shortage of sonographers to perform these scans, these can involve a wait.

“To counter this, we have now trained a midwife sonographer to deliver these growth scans into the antenatal clinic but we now need to train more staff to be able to deliver these scans.

“The trainer is a simulation tool for ultrasound so that people can learn the basic skills before live scanning on patients.

“This will reduce the training time needed for another midwife sonographer plus the consultants in the antenatal clinic so that growth scans could be provided on the same day as antenatal appointment. 

“Babies that aren’t growing would be picked up at an earlier stage in pregnancy and closely monitored.”