The BBC has uncovered failures to diagnose abnormalities or serious conditions during private baby scans.

The investigation into Britain’s private baby scan boom, attributed to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions preventing partners attending antenatal appointments and the increasing popularity of gender reveal parties looks at the providers in the market. Some providers offer just images, videos or other gifts, while many offer “wellness checks” and “reassurance scans”.

The BBC has found evidence that some parents weren’t told of serious conditions and the Care Quality Commission, which many providers say they are regulated by, has reported a “growing concern”.

How many more people must be hurt physically, mentally or emotionally before the government pulls its finger out and imposes on the private sector the safety standards that they rightly insist the NHS adheres to?

Linda Millband National practice lead for clinical negligence

Linda Millband, national clinical negligence lead at Thompsons, said: “If these reports are true and parents to-be are getting a misleading picture of the health of their unborn child, the private healthcare sector has yet another scandal at its door. This looks like profits again being put before patients.

“The natural anxiousness that many people feel while pregnant has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. To put their minds at rest, paying for an additional scan to hear the baby’s heartbeat or see it moving in the womb may seem like money well spent, but if those scans reveal issues that are then being hidden that is truly alarming.

“There is an expectation of higher quality care when people hand over their hard-earned cash, but we’ve seen first-hand what happens when profits are put before patients by private healthcare providers. Just ask any of the hundreds of mesh-injured people we represent or the hundreds of women we supported in the wake of the Ian Paterson scandal.  

“The need for private healthcare companies to be held to the same standards and obligations of transparency, safety and accountability as the NHS is becoming more and more apparent. How many more people must be hurt physically, mentally or emotionally before the government pulls its finger out and imposes on the private sector the safety standards that they rightly insist the NHS adheres to?”