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Thinking about opening a 3D/4D baby scan clinic?

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Can I open an ultrasound clinic?

If you already have your own space from which you are offering medical and beauty treatments, you may be considering adding a pregnancy scanning service for women. Before you go investing over £20,000 in an obstetric ultrasound machine (and for the type of machine being used by sonographers in the NHS, expect to spend a minimum of £50,000), you need to think seriously about the service you plan to offer.

Many aesthetics clinics employ nurses and other medical professionals to deliver regulated or more invasive treatments, and it’s important to remember that obstetric ultrasound is no different. Ultrasound involves sending energy into the body, and in the case of pregnancy scanning, you are directing that energy towards a human being at their most delicate and vulnerable time of life: the unborn baby.

The British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS) stresses that ultrasound should be used by trained professionals for diagnostic purposes only, and not for entertainment value (i.e. taking “pretty pictures”). This is unlikely to deter people from seeking 3D and 4D pregnancy scans, however, which at the present time are rarely provided by the NHS – hence the rise of private clinics offering this service.

There is nothing wrong with helping people to celebrate and commemorate something that, to them, is one of the happiest events of their lives, but it is equally important to do this while keeping them, their baby, and your business safe. “A trained professional” in this instance can be no other than an obstetric sonographer, and such an individual will know the correct settings to use at different stages of pregnancy, maximum safe exposure times (as well as being proficient enough to be able to obtain the required images quickly), and will also know how to spot signs of foetal distress or an abnormal pregnancy for instant referral.

An unqualified individual – however well-meaning – would not know any of these things, and such a scan may provide false reassurance to a client who uses your service in place of making an NHS appointment. The ethical and legal ramifications of this need no elaboration.

Ultimately, if investing tens of thousands of pounds in an ultrasound machine, it just makes sense to employ a sonographer to perform the scans. The average hourly rate of an obstetric sonographer in 2021 is £60/hour, but you will not have to invest anything in training them up, they will be able to get the most out of your new machine, and you will be able to sleep at night.

If you need help or advice in choosing the right ultrasound machine for your business, please contact us.


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