A WARRINGTON Hospital unit has celebrated 20 years of scanning and assessing women in the early days of their pregnancies.

The early pregnancy assessment unit is now 20 years old, having first opened in May 1997.

In that time, thousands of pregnant women have been scanned and assessed ahead of the birth of their little ones.

Senior nurse clinician Anne Howard, who has worked on the unit since it first opened, said: “It was part of a national movement to set up early pregnancy clinics and I was fortune to be given six months to go around the country to see how other services were run before feeding back what would work here.

“Around 75 per cent of gynaecological emergencies are related to early pregnancy.

“Probably 95 per cent of our patients are now managed by nurses and very few need to see a doctor.

“We're offering a service that’s always going to be needed - demand is growing and expectations are growing."

Expectant mums go to the nurse-led unit for scans if they encounter any issues between six and 18 weeks into their pregnancy, while women who have previously experienced a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy will also attend as a precaution.

The unit now sees nearly double the amount of patients it did 20 years ago, up to around 3,500 pregnant women per year from 2,000.

It has also had visitors from other hospitals across the UK as well as Australia.

Anne added: “The job is similar in the fact that you’re seeing patients and are part of that early pregnancy excitement but also sharing the disappointment when things go wrong.

“Obviously it’s nice when it’s a positive outcome but when you can help to support people through a distressing and traumatic time it’s really rewarding.

“The team is very close knit and you can develop nurses to run a service.

“A lot of the staff who have been part of this service have actually gone on to more advanced practitioner roles within this trust and other trusts.

“From a nursing point of view, to see staff develop those skills is really rewarding."