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Waterford and Tipperary hospitals to provide women access to pregnancy scan

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Pregnant women provided with access to 20-week anomaly scans at Tipperary and Waterford hospitals

South Tipperary General Hospital and University Hospital Waterford are set to provide access to 20-week anomaly scans for pregnant women

The Maternity Directorate of the South/South West Hospital Group has announced that all pregnant women in Tipperary and Waterford will have equal access to a mid-trimester fetal anatomy scan, carried out between 21-23 weeks.  

The South/South West Hospital Group Maternity Directorate operates four maternity units, including at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and South Tipperary General Hospital (STGH).

This ultrasound scan can detect fatal foetal abnormality in babies.

“Thanks to the support of the National Women and Infants Health Programme, we can now offer pregnant women equal access to the same high standards and quality of ultrasound services irrespective of where they live,” said South/South West Hospital Group clinical director Professor John R. Higgins.

This is significant progress for the South/South West Hospital Group as not all maternity unit locations had the required number of trained sonographers available. It has taken considerable time to train and recruit sonographers to ensure an equal service is in place across the region. It takes two years for a midwife to complete the required masters in ultrasonography. The Maternity Directorate is committed to an ongoing training and development programme to ensure sustainable service provision.

Minister for Health Simon Harris last week welcomed the passage of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill through the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Speaking as the Bill completed its passage in the Seanad, Minister Harris said: "This is a genuinely historic moment. It paves the way for the implementation of the service for termination of pregnancy in January 2019.”

The legislation permits terminations to be carried out up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, where there is a risk to the life or of serious harm to the health of the pregnant woman, or where there is a risk to the life or of serious harm to the health of the pregnant woman in an emergency, or where there is a condition present which is likely to lead to the death of the foetus either before or within 28 days of birth.