7 a picture: The hospitals cashing in on baby scans that others hand out for free
hospitals of unfairly profiting from parents who want a memento
of first sight of their child
00:06 GMT, 24 March 2012
Hospitals are raking in tens of thousands of pounds a year charging mothers for photos of their babies in the womb.
Some trusts are asking up to 7 for a single ultrasound photo, even though many others across the country hand them out for free.
Campaigners have accused the hospitals of unfairly profiting from parents who simply want a memento of the first sight of their child.
Costly memento: Hospitals are raking in tens of thousands of pounds a year charging mothers for photos of their babies in the womb
Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent made 180,000 last year by charging 7 for a photo, 13 for two or 24 for a set of four.
Dartford and Gravesham NHS trust made 245,472 over three years – nearly 82,000 a year – by charging fees of 5 a picture.
And Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation trust made 52,830 in 2010 – the most recent figures – by imposing fees of 6 a picture.
Many hospitals provide the pictures free of charge, while others ask for donations to cover the basic cost.
'Pregnancy is meant to be a happy time for prospective parents, not a money-making opportunity for a hospital'
Photographs are often available after ultrasound scans held between eight and 12 weeks into pregnancy and again at 18 to 20 weeks. The trusts claim they need the fees to cover the costs of scanning equipment and photo printing, as maternity staff only need to see the images on a computer screen.
But Emma Boon, campaign director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Mums-to-be already pay for the NHS through their taxes. This is asking them to pay twice. Pregnancy is meant to be a happy time for prospective parents, not a money-making opportunity for a hospital.’
A spokesman from Medway NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘As this service is not provided for clinical purposes – clinicians only need digital images – the trust has to maintain equipment to ensure it is available for those parents who wish to use it.’