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Free pregnancy scans to improve equity and healthcare in the Eastern Bay

06 April 2021

Free pregnancy scans are set to improve equity and healthcare for hapū māmā and pēpē in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Free pregnancy scans to improve equity and healthcare in the Eastern Bay
Free pregnancy scans to improve equity and healthcare in the Eastern Bay.

All ultrasound scans for pregnant women requested by a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) in the Eastern Bay of Plenty are now fully funded by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB) it has been announced.

BOPDHB Population and Women’s Health Portfolio Manager Sarah Stevenson said the move improves access to routine scans which will also improve clinical outcomes and equity. Previously scans requested by a LMC had been partially funded but a co-payment of $45 was still required.

“The co-payment meant there could be a financial barrier to women accessing this service,” said Sarah. “In 2020 there were 693 births to women living in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. By looking at the number of scans last year, we roughly estimate that 40% of all pregnancies in the Eastern Bay were not having all the ultrasounds they required.

“By removing the need for women to pay $45 for their scans, we hope to remove a barrier to pregnancy ultrasounds. This is an exciting step towards Toi Ora – flourishing descendants of Toi.”

Free scans in the Eastern Bay are for pregnancy ultrasounds that are requested by a LMC to Bay Radiology, Whakatāne. Prior to 1 March 2021, there were no options in the Eastern Bay for a ‘free’ scan when requested by a LMC.

The number of ultrasound scans per woman has increased significantly since the introduction of the Primary Maternity Services Notice in 2007, from an average of 2.6 scans per woman giving birth in 2007/08 to 4.9 scans per woman giving birth in 2018/19.