Social Scanning *
Issued May 2021
Issues around ‘social scanning’ have been raised as Programme Leads are seeing an increase in applicants looking to qualify in sonography, not for diagnostic purposes but for commercial reasons (eg. baby scans for gender-reveal parties). They have asked for clarification on CASE’s position and so the following response is issued as a formal position statement:
CASE has a responsibility to provide assurance that ultrasound trainees completing an accredited course are safe, competent and have a clear and confident understanding of their scope of practice. This is at the heart of why CASE exists. The learning outcomes that must be met by students completing a CASE accredited course reflect the level of understanding and skill required for a first post competent practitioner, undertaking medical ultrasound examinations within an evidence-based environment. (For example, for obstetric ultrasound, these outcomes must be consistent with current national guidelines, including the NHS Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme or equivalent and Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle v2.)
Members of the public are unable to distinguish between sonographers employed in an NHS context and individuals undertaking social scans. To safeguard patients, and to be able to hold practitioners to account, it is recognised that there is urgent need for statutory regulation of ultrasound practice in the UK. Personal accreditation of an individual’s ultrasound practice is not a process that falls within the remit of CASE. However, in the absence of statutory regulation, CASE has a vital role in ensuring that all trainees completing an accredited course are prepared fully for practice within an NHS context. On completion of a CASE accredited award (PgC, PgD or MSc) sonographers are able to register as a sonographer with the Register of Clinical Technologists. [therct.org.uk]
In line with the position of our member organisations, CASE accreditation is only applicable to courses of study that prepare students for the use of ultrasound imaging for medical diagnosis and /or as an aid to medical/surgical interventions. CASE will not accredit courses (full awards or focused) that prepare trainees solely for the purpose of social scanning where there is no medical justification.
* Social scanning definition: The use of ultrasound for pregnant patients where there is no clinical justification for the scan. This may include scanning solely for fetal sexing and/or to capture souvenir images of the baby.