The NHS will pay more than £5m to the US for the use of an ultrasonic device to scan babies born at the end of their third trimester and deliver them at home.
Theresa May’s decision to scrap the previous government’s decision not to allow ultrasound in the UK was the biggest shock of the UK’s election campaign, but it was overshadowed by the shock election result in the US.
It is likely that the UK government will not receive any extra funding from the US until 2019 as it looks to save money, a spokeswoman said.
The government’s move to pay for the US devices, called the “UltraViolet” in the United States, will save about £5 million per year in healthcare bills and about £20m a year in extra health service costs, the spokeswoman said in a statement.
The US has seen an increase in maternal deaths due to complications caused by ultrasounds during pregnancy, particularly during deliveries.
“The UK’s decision was based on an updated assessment of the risks and benefits of using Ultrasound in pregnancy,” the spokeswoman added.
The NHS will also pay for three other ultrasound products: an intrauterine device, a trimester implant and a post-natal device.
The Government has been keen to encourage US firms to manufacture ultrasound devices in the country, which it believes will reduce the cost of care and provide better quality.
The move follows a decision by the US to allow some US companies to sell products to the NHS for up to six months.
In the US, some doctors and hospitals have rejected the US proposal, saying they do not want to see the country’s healthcare system reduced.
The UK has more than 12 million births a year, but about a quarter of these babies are born in the final trimester, the time of the birth of the baby’s brain and lungs.
The cost of a routine ultrasound scan is about £50, according to the World Health Organization.
In April, the US Federal Communications Commission approved a proposal to expand the use and availability of ultrasound equipment in the nation, including for pre-natal and neonatal care.US President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticised the use, and has promised to introduce a ban on the use.US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell said she expected the US would not be in a position to make payments from the UK until 2020.
“We are in no way looking to take away the right to use ultrasound, but we are committed to protecting the health and safety of our healthcare system,” she said.
“We will continue to do everything we can to support the use in the USA.”