Many people assume all ultrasound scanning companies, particularly those offering pregnancy scans, are medical facilities.
After all, they call themselves clinics and are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which oversees standards of care at hospitals and care homes.
So surely they are medical centres, right?
Unfortunately not. Regardless of the qualifications of the person performing the scan, most "baby scanning clinics" are only able to provide scans for "entertainment purposes" also known as "souvenir scans" and as such are classed as non-diagnostic clinics.
Even though ultrasound and sonography is classed as a diagnostic service, there is a distinction between diagnostic and souvenir scans as far as the CQC are concerned and they explain it further on their website.
Additionally the people performing the scans don't actually have to be medically trained or qualified. There are a range of people who could be employed to carry out the scan from ultrasound technicians and ultrasound practitioners to midwife ultrasound practitioners and even fully qualified sonographers and radiologists.
Some places do employ qualified sonographers but even at these non-diagnostic imaging companies, recognising that they are non-medical and there simply to provide gender determination, 4D or other keepsake scans, their policy is to overlook any issues affecting the pregnancy or fetus that they might notice during the scan, instead leaving it for the main healthcare provider, usually the NHS, to pick up on any potential problem.
This is where the practitioner DOES recognise an abnormality and still does not have to say anything.
However, in a large number of cases, the person performing the scan would not even know or notice an abnormality because they are not trained or experienced in such matters, let alone be in a position to discuss it, explain how it will affect the pregnancy or be able to refer to the most appropriate healthcare professional for follow-up.
Many such places exist for the sole purpose of providing souvenir scans and, as such, may be suitable for the majority of pregnancies but how can you be sure they are appropriate to try and reassure you as to the welfare and wellbeing of your baby?
Are you satisfied they are competent and knowledgeable in applying clinical guidelines for the safe use of diagnostic ultrasound equipment on your unborn fetus?
Of course geographical proximity, travel considerations, convenience and cost are all factors that help determine where you might go for a private scan but can you justify any of these when you don't receive the reassurance or the answers you crave?
This is why Starlight is different. Starlight Ultrasound is a diagnostic ultrasound clinic for women and men and a private midwife clinic for pregnancies and will only ever employ qualified sonographers, who are trained and experienced in the areas in which they perform scans on our patients.
The clinic is run by lead practitioner Laura Gardner who is a Clinical Specialist Sonographer and Registered Midwife.
With clinics in Bury town centre and Hale village, Starlight is accessible to expectant parents in Greater Manchester and the North West of England, with visitors regularly coming from Yorkshire, Wales, East and West Midlands for our range of fertility and pregnancy scans and services.
Feedback is incredibly important to Starlight and every single visitor is sent a questionnaire following their appointment and we have received thousands of private responses in addition to the public reviews and recommendations on social media.
What's even more heartening to us than the many 5* reviews are the numerous positive messages received privately when someone has received bad news, highlighting the care, compassion and professionalism as to how it was conveyed, explained and the process that followed.
With the permission of some of the people concerned, who we have chosen to keep anonymous, we are able to share some of these publicly in some other articles.
Some people may find the words or experiences distressing so please note there are support lines, charities and organisations to offer help if you or anyone you know is upset by the contents of these messages.
Starlight Ultrasound is a private ultrasound and private midwife clinic in Manchester.