MSP calls on NHS Highland to reconsider baby photo scan charge

It is a treasured moment for any expectant mother, a first glimpse of the tiny baby growing inside her and an image to be shared with family and friends.

A health board is to review its policy after it emerged it was the only one in Scotland to charge expectant parents for a baby scan photo

However, for parents living in the Highlands, the pleasure of that single grainy black and white photograph will set them back a fiver... or three for £10.

Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has now called on NHS Highland to reconsider the practice in light of almost all of Scotland’s health boards providing a complimentary ante-natal scan image.

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Twelve out of 14 health boards issue one copy free, while NHS Lothian requests a voluntary donation.

The health board has now confirmed it will review the practice after facing what promises to be a tidal wave of criticism heading their way.

Almost all expectant mothers have an ultrasound scan at around 12 and 20 weeks, which helps build a picture of their baby in the womb and gives an indication of its likely arrival date.

One mother, who would only give her name as Claire, and is expecting her third child after moving to the area from Glasgow, said it felt like the health board was “cashing in”.

She said: “We’ve got loads of friends who live in Glasgow, who were absolutely shocked when I told them we were getting charged £5 for a picture up here.

“When we had our second baby it was in a really awkward position and if we had to pay £5 and get a really unclear photo – we would have felt a bit cheesed off.”

She added: “The NHS Highland picture is fine but it’s not guaranteed to be decent on the day, obviously you don’t have to take it - but if you’ve got baby scans for your other children, then you’re more likely to feel like you have to buy it because you did it previously for them.

“Basically, we just got a letter in the post saying this is the date of your scan and if you want a photo it’ll be £5 cash on the day – we felt like it was a bit excessive but we didn’t feel we had any choice but to pay it. It feels like they’re cashing in.”

SNP MSP Ms Forbes, who carried out a Freedom of Information investigation, welcomed the news that NHS Highland will review its charging policy.

She said: “I am pleased to hear that, after my investigation into the issue, NHS Highland has decided to review their policy of charging for baby scan photos. The matter came to light after I heard of a woman who had moved from Glasgow, where scan photos are free, to the Highlands, where she had to pay.

“My concern is the disparity between all the other health boards and NHS Highland. I believe we should support mums every step of the way as too often the greatest burden of child bearing and rearing falls on them.

“It’s good news that NHS Highland has taken this information on board and chosen to review the practice”.

A spokesman for NHS Highland, said: “NHS Highland can confirm that we do charge £5 for a copy of an antenatal scan and £10 for three copies. The antenatal scans are printed on high quality photographic paper for personal use by expectant parents, and the current charges were put in place after an increase in 2014.

“Charging for scanned photographs has been in place for a number of years, but in the light of the current information we will now undertake a review of this practice.”