A BLACKBURN based private baby scan company is facing uncertainty about whether or not the scans it runs should be considered 'essential' during the ongoing Coronavirus lockdown.

An East Lancashire sonographer, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Lancashire Telegraph that the ultrasound scans run by Window to the Womb are non-essential and should be suspended.

The healthcare professional who has worked with East Lancashire NHS Trust in the past says that these scans are not of medical need.

He said: “The fact they are preying on the minds of a very vulnerable group of women in this crisis is appalling and they need to be shamed as well as shut down.”

He added: “We are in the middle of a global pandemic and everything needs to be shut down."

Prices charged by the company range from £55 to £135, while scanning in NHS hospitals has been temporarily halted due to the crisis.

The company, which operates centres across the north west, says that due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation they have stopped performing services such as 4-D imaging but says it is working alongside the NHS to relieve the strain felt by hospitals by providing core obstetric ultrasound tests.

A statement issued by the company reads: “All of our scans are completed primarily for the health and well-being of our patients, as such all scans are completed for a medical need.”

According to guidance issued by the Society of Radiographers, scans are potential virus spreading environments and as such the society recommends that extra care should be taken with regard to hygiene, such as reducing contact time between professionals and patients and in some cases issuing masks.

Despite this, it does not recommend that scans be halted altogether.

However, according to the sonographer who spoke to the Lancashire Telegraph, continuing with scans at all is too risky.

He said: “These are self-referred scans and not requested by healthcare professionals and as such whilst in normal conditions they are perfectly acceptable in the light of a deadly global pandemic they are not necessary, non-essential and may accelerate the spread of the disease.”

The company however strongly denies these allegations.

A Window to the Womb spokesperson said: “We have fundamentally restructured our organisation to now only deliver either early pregnancy or foetal health scans.

“All scans are completed by HCPC registered healthcare professionals and we are now working with a number of NHS trusts to provide their scans in our clinics.

“Patient safety remains our absolute priority and we have implemented new policies in line with PHE guidance to protect our patients and staff.”