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Eastern Bay of Plenty maternity services welcome free scans for pregnant women

Maternity service providers are welcoming the District Health Board's decision to fully fund scans for women in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

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Expectant mother Tania Dargaville says it will take “a lot of stress off”. Source: 1 NEWS

But the College of Midwives is calling for a universal approach so all mothers can have the best care for their unborn babies.

Community Health Services provider Te Tohu o Te Ora o Ngati Awa delivers tamariki ora Well Child checks to children aged between 0-5.

Service manager Angelene Brown says the cost of scans can compete with the cost of living for some.

“Forty-five dollars to go for a scan can be huge. It can be the difference between milk, bread, meat on the table so a lot of our mummas just chose to not go for their scans," she told 1 NEWS.

Tania Dargaville is pregnant with her sixth child and missed her first ultrasound scan because of the cost.

“It's a little bit unsettling, especially when you're like oh, I didn't go to my scan today babe.”

The Ministry of Health says women are offered two scans, one in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy and the second at 20 weeks.

But prices and care vary between DHBs and if extra scans are needed there's sometimes a charge.

"There's a baseline universal approach to funding the scans, but private providers don't think that's enough funding to actually deliver the services that they need to so then they ask the women to provide a co-payment or a top-up,” BOP DHB population and women's health manager Sarah Stevenson said.

The Health Ministry says there are varied approaches to co-payments but the practice is becoming more prevalent and accessibility to scans may act as a barrier.

It says the issue will be addressed by the Maternity Ultrasound Advisory Group.

Nearly 700 women gave birth in the region last year but 40 per cent missed some scans.

Midwives back the DHBs move and think co-payments should be dropped nationwide.

"It should be accessible to all pregnant women and it's something that each DHB should be providing it's a no-brainier when you think about it,” midwife Lisa Kelly said.