NHS staff working in ultrasound departments scanning pregnant women claim they are suffering from 'fat mother syndrome' - a form of RSI (repetitive strain injury).
Sonographers say the condition is caused by having to press hard on the stomachs of overweight women up to twenty times a day. Research suggests such injuries result in around one in 10 hospital sonographers being off work at any given time.
Staff are now demanding an end to what they deem a 'misplaced sense of diplomacy shown to overweight mothers' and are calling for a poster campaign to warn mums-to-be that obesity might mean an unsuccessful scan.
Richard Evans, chief executive of the Society of Radiographers told the Sunday Express: 'It is a sensitive issue as pregnancy is not the ideal time to tell a woman that she's obese. There is already a shortage of trained sonographers in the health service so when a large percentage are off work this just puts more pressure on those still working. We did a general survey of our members and found that 28.3 per cent of them have been off work because of what we call Work Related Upper Limb Disorder.'
He added that the injuries can be so debilitating that some sonographers are unable to continue in their careers, and have to find other employment:
'For a very few people it becomes so bad that they have to leave the profession and find other work. There are a number of issues one of which is having to press down hard to get a good image where there is obesity and that is a very significant causal effect. Many of our members try to solve the problem by taking courses to learn how to become ambidextrous to take the pressure of just one hand and arm being used. That's fine but if the scanning room is too small and set up for right-handed practitioners you can't move around to the other side of the patient and leaning across her is not an option.'
What do you think?
Should obese women be warned their weight poses a risk?
Or should every patient be treated the same, regardless of their size?