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The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on clinical guidance and risk assessments, and the importance of effective leadership to support UK obstetric sonographers

Skelton, E. ORCID: 0000-0003-0132-7948, Malamateniou, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-2352-8575 & Harrison, G. ORCID: 0000-0003-2795-8190 (2022). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on clinical guidance and risk assessments, and the importance of effective leadership to support UK obstetric sonographers. Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, 53(4), S107-S115. doi: 10.1016/j.jmir.2022.10.003


The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the provision of obstetric ultrasound services, leading to the publication of new guidance and requirement for individual departmental risk assessments in the UK. The impact of these changes on clinical practice for UK obstetric sonographers is not currently well reported in published literature.

Obstetric sonographers working in the UK (n=138) used the Qualtrics XMTM platform to complete an anonymous, online questionnaire about their experiences during the pandemic. Participants responded to closed-type questions about national guidance, risk assessment and their perception of support, and provided additional detail about their experiences in these areas through free-text response options.

Over 90% of respondents were aware of or had read guidance issued by professional organisations, although challenges for its implementation in departments were identified. These were commonly related to the clinical working environment and included limitations on physical space (76.3%), time constraints (67.5%) and ventilation (61.3%). Sonographers felt most supported by their ultrasound colleagues (83.5%) and line managers (41.2%). They felt least supported by senior management and leadership personnel (60.8%), other antenatal colleagues (51.5%) and professional organisations (41.2%).

Obstetric sonographers will need support from the wider service team and professional organisations to facilitate post-pandemic recovery of the workforce. Formal clinical supervision programmes may be beneficial in facilitating a more holistic approach to peer-support, although there is currently limited evidence of their use in sonographic practice.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: COVID-19, Guidance, Obstetrics, Risk Assessment, Sonographers, Ultrasound
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR180 Immunology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
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