Wednesday, November 20, 2019
The skye times mobile

NHS Highland have confirmed that it is to continue being the only health board in Scotland to charge pregnant mums £5 for a baby scan photo.

In the summer NHS Highland promised to review the controversial practice following an investigation by Kate Forbes, but Freedom of Information requests have now revealed the health board is continuing to charge expectant mums £5 for a photo, or £10 for three at antenatal scan appointments.

The requests also showed not a single piece of paper formed part of the promised review, and that it had been conducted by a sonographer who made telephone calls to four other hospitals – one of whom did not respond.

All three hospitals that answered the calls were operating within health boards that operate a donations-only policy.

Kate Forbes MSP has again called on NHS Highland to rethink its charging policy.  The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch explained: "I believe very strongly that those who live in the Highlands should not be penalised by higher costs for living and working.

"We already face longer journeys, higher fuel costs and surcharges on various services. That is why I raised my concerns about the additional costs faced by expectant mothers for copies of their antenatal scans in the Highlands over the summer.

"It was a constituent that first brought this issue to my attention as the mother lived in the central belt and was given complimentary copies of the antenatal scans. She then moved to the Highlands and was surprised to be charged for the antenatal scans.

"There are very few mums-to-be who don't want a copy of the antenatal scan and so most mums are charged.

"The constituent in question approached me to ask why there was this discrepancy, when Highland mums already faced additional costs just for living and travelling in the Highlands."

Kate Forbes MSP continued: "This is not about the principle of whether NHS should charge for such scans, as people will no doubt have different views on that. If it was standard practice for every health board to charge then I would not be making such a fuss.

"Instead this is about why it is only mothers in the Highlands who face a mandatory charge for scans.

"Ultimately this is about the discrepancy across Scotland, and about equitable access and costs.

"Whilst I welcome the fact NHS Highland has given this issue consideration, I would question how thorough the review process has been if it only amounted to a quick chat with a colleague in another health board area.

"During the summer I contacted every single health board in Scotland to establish their position before calling on NHS Highland to reconsider their charging policy for pregnant mums.

"Speaking to three other hospitals on the phone does not strike me as being a comprehensive national review, and I am disappointed that NHS Highland believes this is adequate.

"NHS Highland have confirmed there are no documents, or any sort of paper trail, associated with this review, and that makes it harder to take their findings with any real authority.

"What is also puzzling, is that all three health boards they spoke to operate a donations policy, and yet still NHS Highland continues to be the only one in Scotland charging mums for such a service.

"I believe that it is still unfair that mums living in the Highlands are the only women in Scotland being charged for these photos."

"I continue to believe that costs associated with the NHS should be equitable across Scotland, because equal access is at the very heart of the NHS."

Site created by Intermedia Services (Stornoway) Ltd © 2017