Women reveal experiences at private clinics doing pregnancy scans

‘The scan failed to show there was no fluid around my baby – she died six days later’: Women reveal their devastating experiences at private clinics providing pregnancy scans

  • Mother wrongly told by clinic that her unborn daughter had Down’s syndrome
  • Another had ‘humiliating experience’ involving ‘old and dubiously clean towel’

A series of heartbroken women have come forward to reveal their horror at mistakes and poor service they suffered at private clinics providing pregnancy scans.

One woman told MailOnline she was wrongly told by a private clinic that her unborn daughter had Down’s syndrome – before she was eventually born without it.

Another explained how she went for a scan at a clinic in the Midlands which failed to tell her there was no fluid around her baby, who died just days later on her due date.

And a third described her a ‘humiliating experience’ at a clinic in Kent after she had to put an ‘old and dubiously clean towel’ under her legs during an examination.

The women all revealed their experiences to MailOnline after it emerged almost one in three of the clinics are failing to meet the medical watchdog’s care standards.

Some are failing to spot medical problems with devastating consequences for mother and baby. The Daily Mail found serious failings at so-called ‘baby boutiques’ include staff being untrained to spot foetal abnormalities and poor hygiene.

Read some of the shocking stories from women who have suffered at the clinics:

Women have told of bad experiences at private clinics providing pregnancy scans (file image)

‘I was told my unborn baby had Down’s syndrome – but she didn’t’

An expectant mother was wrongly told by a private clinic that her unborn daughter had Down’s syndrome – before she was eventually born without it.

The woman, who asked to only be known as Sarah, said that her ‘entire pregnancy was ruined by horrible stress and anxiety’ over an error related to a blood test.

She told MailOnline that in 2020 she had a scan and noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) test at a private clinic in Cheshire, just before the first lockdown happened.

Sarah, who is 43 and lives in the county, attended the scan alone and was told she had been pregnant with twins, but one had not made it past eight weeks.

‘I miscarried two days after my scan at a private clinic’ 


One woman who had a miscarriage two days after a scan at a private clinic said she felt they were ‘a money making business preying on anxious pregnant women’.

Lucy-Mae Honeyman (pictured) told MailOnline about her devastating experience last year shortly after she went for a reassurance scan at one of the centres.

The 32-year-old primary teacher who lives in Thatcham, Berkshire, said: ‘I had a reassurance scan, was told everything was fine but then sadly miscarried two days after the scan.

‘I feel these places offering reassurance scans are cons and just a money making business preying on anxious pregnant women.’

She said: ‘I queried whether the genetic blood test could go ahead. The sonographer was not sure but the man on reception said as there was no blood supply to my lost twin, it would be fine.

‘A week later, on Good Friday we were phoned to say our daughter was 100 per cent positive for Down’s syndrome.

‘After being hysterical, I mentioned the lost twin and immediately the caller shut me down, decided to null and void our test and quickly returned our money. We were offered no further explanation, no genetic counselling, just uncertainty and sadness.

‘As it eventually became clear, a ‘demised foetus’ as they horribly constantly called my tiny twin, can shed DNA and contaminate the genetic test results, causing a false positive.’

Sarah said the clinic should never have let the blood test go ahead, adding that their ‘lack of training, and incompetence of following protocol, was unacceptable’.

She continued: ‘My entire pregnancy was ruined by horrible stress and anxiety. We could not prove to the NHS maternity unit why we were so upset because the company refused to provide the original test results.

‘Someone higher up in management became involved and we never even had an apology from the owners of the franchise – who I believe, was the man on reception that day.’

‘We only found out on the day our daughter was born that she definitely did not have Down’s syndrome, but they had planted this horrible seed by failing to follow the protocol of not NIPT testing a twin pregnancy, by one flippant remark of ‘it would be fine’.

‘We just wanted to highlight another element of the private scan companies offering genetic testing which is claimed to be 100 per cent accurate, but for some people, is clearly not.’

‘Private clinic scan failed to show there was no fluid around my baby’

An expectant mother said she went for a scan at a private clinic which failed to tell her there was no fluid around her baby, who died just days later on her due date.

Stephanie Loversuch said she visited a clinic in Nottinghamshire for a reassurance scan at 39 weeks, and was told that ‘everything looked okay’.

However, she added: ‘They failed to tell us that there was no fluid around baby and she died six days later on her due date at 40 weeks pregnant.’

Ms Loversuch said her consultant reviewed the scans and said it was ‘evident’ there was no fluid around the baby from the scan pictures.

She continued: ‘A complaint was raised but we have never heard anything back nor had an apology. They said it was a non-diagnostic scan but would point out any issues should they arise, but they didn’t.

‘Had they told us to go the hospital she could have been saved.’

She also claimed there were ‘major failings’ at an NHS hospital in the Midlands, which told her not to come in over concerns with movement because they would ‘be waiting eight hours for a doctor’, ‘it is normal for babies to move with less strength and less often at a later gestation’ and she ‘would get Covid and be in ICU’.

She said she was not jabbed at the time due to advice against pregnant women having the Covid-19 jab, adding: ‘So we went private and they failed us too.’

‘It took six scans to find my baby wouldn’t survive outside the womb’

A pregnant mother was left heartbroken when an NHS scan found her unborn baby had a hole in his heart at 20 weeks – despite her having had four private scans that failed to pick up anything was wrong.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, told MailOnline that she had a total of six scans in the first 20 weeks of her pregnancy last year – despite the NHS only offering two.

She had four private scans as well as an NHS scan at 12 weeks, but ‘nothing was picked up’ until her NHS scan at 20 weeks when she was referred to a fetal medicine unit (FMU) in London and her ‘whole world fell apart’.

She said it was only at this point that she was told her baby boy had Trisomy 21, more commonly known as Down’s syndrome, and a huge hole in his heart – meaning he ‘simply would not survive outside the womb’.

She said: ‘These private scans are not cheap, and we pay for them for a number of reasons. I felt like I had seen enough experts that someone would have picked something up along the way.’

The woman said that after her 12 week scan at the NHS she received her blood results back and was told she was not high risk, adding: ‘That’s all any expecting mother wants to hear, so you think everything is fine.

‘Then as I read on I was told to take a daily dose of aspirin because I had a low hormone which is common in smaller babies.

READ MORE – Mother’s one-day-old daughter died in her arms after she fell victim to high street clinics 

Bonnie Williams with baby Mabelle-Rose

‘This worried me of course, but after speaking to others I found out this was totally normal. That’s all I got from the hospital, a letter.’

She added: ‘I then went for my gender scan at 18 weeks, so excited, I asked the sonographer if everything was alright with baby’s size, she told me that she isn’t here to measure the baby just to see the gender.

‘After leaving it didn’t feel right. I wanted to know everything was OK and online they all state ‘they will perform welfare checks on the mother and foetus’, so I emailed them.

‘I got a call from one of the midwives or sonographers and she assured me that she had taken a look at my photos and everything was fine, I had nothing to worry about.

‘Then, fast forward to my 20 week scan at the NHS. The most important scan of all. I was in there for a good hour, jumping around trying to get a good shot at baby boy.

‘After my examination I was told to wait in the private room for the midwife, that’s when she expressed their concern about the heart and that I was being referred to the FMU in London. All a nightmare.

‘She left the room and then came back with a piece of paper and said ‘oh yes she told me she couldn’t find a nose bone’ – this is one of the tell-tale signs of Trisomy 21. I then had to make the heartbreaking decision on what to do after that and left babyless.’

She continued: ‘The lack of care given to women in the early stages of pregnancy is disgusting. How have six different professionals not picked up on anything?

‘The NHS only offer two scans unless you are high risk. This then forces you to pay for private scans. The whole thing is concerning. It’s unacceptable. I just hope no one has to go through it, but I know that can’t be true.’

‘I had to put an old and dubiously clean towel under my legs’

A mother-of-three told how she had a ‘humiliating experience’ at a private pregnancy scan clinic after having to put an ‘old and dubiously clean towel’ under her legs.

The woman also said she was told to lay on a bed next to a door which anyone could open at any time, and right in front of a window where she feared she could be seen.

The 34-year-old self-employed business-to-business service provider, who asked to be named only as Sissi, added the bed she was laying down on was not a specialist chair with leg rests, but rather an examination bed normally found in a GP office.

And Sissi, who lives in Kent, claimed that when she needed to ‘raise her hips’, she was given an ‘old, dubiously clean, ripped and rolled up towel’ to put underneath her.

Speaking to MailOnline, the self-employed B2B service provider said she is originally from Poland where expectant mothers are used to seeing gynaecologists privately.

She said that in Poland, people normally pay for baby scans and baby care as well as routine smear tests and check ups – which they are told to have every 12 months.

Sissi said that when she visits a gynaecologist in Poland, the doctor always has a nurse present who is assisting and chaperoning so you are not left feeling awkward.

She also told how there is normally a bathroom with female products and a wash basin available, as well as a private space where you can get changed and a medical ‘skirt’ and foot-cover ready for patients to be able to retain some decency.

But, speaking about her experience in the UK, she continued: ‘In 2016, in the early weeks of my pregnancy, I came down with a terrible case of norovirus. Concerned about my baby I wanted to have an early scan.

‘At six weeks, an internal scan was needed. The room was on a ground floor of an office building, (the) reception room was full of people and very stuffy.

‘When I was called in for my scan I was told to lay down on bed, right by the door behind which there was a lot of people and anyone could open it at any time and right in front of window in a ground floor office.

‘I was told to ‘undress myself’. Just like that, then and there, in front of the person. Luckily I was wearing a skirt so was able to retain some decency.

‘But if I was wearing trousers I would have to undress myself in front of that person and with a worry that anyone can come in or see me through the window.

‘My open legs were facing that window. When I needed to ‘raise my hips’ I was provided with old, dubiously clean, ripped and rolled up towel to put under my hips.

‘Clutching to my tights and knickers, I couldn’t wait for this humiliating experience to be over.’

She continued: ‘The bed I was laying down on was not a specialist chair with leg rests, it was an examination bed you’ll find in a GP office.

‘I paid £150 for this ‘pleasure’. I could have flown back to my country and paid for a private consultation and scan with a specialist gyn-ob (obstetrician-gynecologist) for the same cost.’

Sissi added that she was later ‘blessed with a healthy boy’ and said she considered herself ‘one of the lucky ones’.

‘Couldn’t be seen by NHS because my miscarriages were on a Friday’

A woman has revealed how she has suffered two miscarriages in just six months – but both began on a Friday, when she could not be seen by the local NHS trust.

Aimee Brock said she could not get an appointment until Monday or Tuesday due to her early pregnancy clinic being shut on a weekend, adding: ‘Apparently pregnancy isn’t a 24/7 thing.’

The 36-year-old hair stylist told MailOnline that there was a ‘gap within the NHS for expectant mothers’ that could only be filled by private clinics.

Ms Brock, who lives in Gloucestershire, said that she was further along on the second miscarriage, at 11 and a half weeks.

She said: ‘I was so scared and needed to know if there was anything I could do to help or stop what was happening.

‘I had no choice – other than to sit in A&E for who knows how long – but to pay for a private scan, where I was informed that sadly we had lost our baby.

‘There is a gap within the NHS for expectant mothers and the care they are receiving, so I can completely understand where the private clinics come in.’

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service accused private clinics of ‘exploiting the anxieties’ of expectant mothers and called for better regulation of the sector.

Its spokeswoman said: ‘Pregnancy can be a very vulnerable time for women. It is simply wrong that private clinics are exploiting the anxieties of parents to be in order to make a quick profit. 

‘Given the ongoing strain on NHS services, more pregnant women may turn to private scanning clinics for reassurance and support, so swift action is needed.

‘It is clear that these organisations are providing healthcare and diagnostic services and they should be regulated accordingly. 

‘We are calling on the regulators to take on these shady practitioners to protect women from future heartbreak and mistreatment.’

And the British Medical Ultrasound Society, which continues to call for a ban on baby scans for non-medical purposes, told the Mail: ‘It’s very upsetting to see so many cases involving mothers and babies where outcomes may have been different had the women avoided buying these so-called ‘non-diagnostic reassurance scans’.

‘While some practitioners working for these companies may hold recognised qualifications and be regulated by a UK council, others will not.

‘We have sought recognition of sonography as a discrete profession, via strict regulation with a UK council, for many years in order to protect the public and provide a fair career pathway for those appropriately qualified.

‘We will continue to campaign, in collaboration with other organisations, and some of these examples in the article may support our case.’

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