NO SERVICE: The lack of a sonographer at Coffs Harbour Health Campus has caused the problem.
NO SERVICE: The lack of a sonographer at Coffs Harbour Health Campus has caused the problem.

No ultrasounds for pregnant mums

EXPECTANT mothers can no longer have ultrasounds performed at Coffs Harbour Health Campus’ Pregnancy Care Service, even though an imaging machine is believed to be laying dormant.

Instead, pregnant women are paying to have their crucial 20- and 26-week scans at private

radiology clinics but are unable to claim back the $150-$180 cost per scan.

Others who cannot arrange appointments at local radiology clinics on time are being forced to travel elsewhere.

Some might even have to forego the important procedures due to the cost, putting their unborn children at risk.

The Coffs Coast Advocate was informed last night by a spokesperson at the North Coast Area Health Service that a second ultrasound machine has not been ‘sitting dormant’ at Coffs Harbour Health Campus.

“It also is not correct that a sonographer position has been unfilled for ‘cost saving measures’ and no sonographers have resigned from CHHC,” said the spokeperson.

“Due to increased demand for services at CHHC, a decision was made arising from a submission received from CHHC Management, to recruit another sonographer to expand utilisation of the second machine. Recruitment to this additional sonographer position will be progressed as quickly as possible.

“While recruitment for a permanent sonographer is occurring, a casual Sonographer will be sought to fill the position on a temporary basis.”

A source within the hospital has told the Advocate cost-saving by management is the cause.

Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser raised the issue in state parliament yesterday afternoon, calling on the Government to immediately fund the service.

Mr Fraser demanded that a sonographer be hired at the hospital immediately.

“This is an appalling state of affairs, why is it that country health service are underfunded . . . pregnant mothers in the city are afforded these same services,” Mr Fraser said.

Hospital management has reportedly fielded numerous complaints over the issue.

And the plight of one Coffs Harbour couple was raised in Parliament yesterday.

They are expecting their fifth child and surviving on a disability pension.

Opened in 2008, the Coffs Harbour Pregnancy Care Service has until recently offered pregnant woman free ultrasounds on top of consultations with midwives and obstetricians.

Funded by a $1 million package under the Iemma Government, Coffs Harbour received $173,272 in funding to enhance early pregnancy services.

At the service’s opening on April 24, 2008, then Health Minister Reba Meagher said health outcomes for local mothers and their babies would significantly improve locally.

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