One full-time gynaecological sonographer at the Hospital

JERSEY has one full-time sonographer trained to conduct obstetric and gynaecological scans, the Health Department has revealed following questions about staffing levels after partners were banned at antenatal scans.

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The sonographer is supported by a midwife who can carry out some scans and another who is currently training, as well as a number of consultants who can be called in to help if needed.

The department said the staffing levels – which have been given as a reason for restricting attendance at scans to just the mother – were ‘sufficient’ given the number of babies born in Jersey each year, which is currently around 900.

A ban on mothers-to-be being allowed someone with them for antenatal scans was reintroduced in December following a rise in Covid-19 cases in the Island. It remains in place.

The decision to reintroduce the measure was announced two days after the NHS released new guidance saying that expectant mothers should be allowed to have someone with them at all stages of their pregnancy, including at scans, even during the pandemic. A similar ban had been in place in the early stages of the pandemic.

A petition launched by a member of the public calling for the ban to be reversed has been signed by around 1,270 people and has so far been waiting 24 days for a response from a minister, having passed the 1,000 threshold which triggers a reply.

The Health Department defended its policy, following a public outcry and numerous questions to Health Minister Richard Renouf in the States Assembly, saying that it was to protect its staff and prevent the service being disrupted.

The response led the JEP to ask how many members of staff were qualified to carry out such scans.

In response, a Health Department spokesperson said: ‘We currently have one fully accredited obstetrics and gynaecology sonographer who conducts the full range of routine obstetric and gynaecological scans as their full-time role. We have one midwife trained to conduct a limited range of scans and another who is currently in training.

‘Additional support is available for this service from our consultants, who are also certified for the full range and specialised obstetric scanning but who work in other areas of the Hospital.’

They added: ‘This local resource is sufficient for Jersey within the context of our birth rates. However, we must be mindful to protect our staff during this pandemic in order to sustain a core service.’

Rules preventing videos from being taken in the scanning room have been temporarily lifted to allow women to film a short part of their scan to show their partner. Meanwhile, partners or companions who do not have Covid-19 are still able to attend births.

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