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SoR raises concerns about staff and patient safety after hospital visiting rules changed

21 July, 2020
Sonographer and patient

The Society of Radiographers have raised concerns with the health minister for Wales after revised visiting rules for hospitals have been published without formal consultation.

The SoR are particularly apprehensive about the impact of opening up ultrasound scan appointments. Joint national guidance which was developed in partnership during the early weeks of the pandemic has been abandoned.

SoR President Chris Kalinka, who is a radiography manager in Wales explains, “Covid-19 is still with us and will be for a long time to come.

"That means protections like PPE and social distancing will be staying in hospital settings for the foreseeable future. This will mean that some procedures will have to continue to be done differently. It is disappointing that some MPs and pressure groups are struggling to grasp this and have influenced the Chief Nursing Officer to make a compromise, without consultation that will leave staff and patients at greater risk than they need to be."

Chris continued, "Ultrasound examinations during pregnancy have come to be seen as family events and people are often justifiably excited about the opportunity to see how the baby is developing and possibly take away the first baby photo.

"It cannot be over-emphasised that these examinations, when undertaken as part of NHS antenatal procedures, are crucial diagnostic tests, during which the sonographer will need to focus completely on the procedure and ensure that all aspects are completed safely. At any time it is inappropriate for there to be any distractions during the scan.

"This is a challenge at the best of times but with the added complications of Covid-19, such as wiping down touched surfaces between scans and maintaining social distancing, this change is premature.”

Chris added, “Until now, consultation with the NHS unions in Wales through this difficult period has generally been good with effective partnership working.

"We assume that the reason it hasn’t happened now is because of the wider pressure exerted on service leaders and they knowing what the Society's reaction would be.

"We are writing to the minister asking him to help his senior leaders out and give then the confidence to maintain safe conditions, even if that is unpopular with expectant parents and their families.”

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