This post is a response to a question from one of our readers who said she had read about the NHS making some errors in interpreting scan results.  She asked whether or not she should get a private scan at 20 weeks instead of the usual NHS one.

20 week scans are usually done by an Ultrasonographer who will have one years training plus one years supervision of practice. These Ultrasonographers often work for both the NHS and in Private clinics- so one point to note is that you could potentially pay to have someone perform your scan who is also performing them for free on the NHS.

If there are any queries which arise during your scan, you will always be referred to a Fetal Medicine Expert who has full medical qualifications and will have ten years training in Fetal Medicine.

If you chose to have a scan privately, it is interesting to note that there is not a big price difference if you ask to have a Fetal Medicine expert perform your scan, eg £200 instead of £150.  This could be a good option if you are particularly nervous as there may be potential for a better quality scan as the Fetal Medicine expert may have more experience in scanning and spotting abnormalities.

One important factor in the outcome of a 20 week scan is how the baby behaves.  Sometimes the position of the baby can make it difficult to study various parts of the anatomy and whilst the Ultrasonographer will make sure he or she gets a good view of the most important parts of the baby, something like a cleft palate can be missed if the bay has its mouth closed.

It is important that your expectations for a perfect scan are not too high.  Media coverage about “errors” made by the NHS is often misleading as there are some abnormalities that have a low rate of detection and some that cannot be detected by a scan.  The following attached pdf will help you to understand about the different types of congenital abnormality and how likely scanning is to identify each problem.

We hope that this information helps you to make your decision.