New ultrasound practice makes waves in Taranaki

After learning some women in Taranaki were travelling out of the region to get the ultrasounds they needed, three women decided to do something about it.

New Wave Ultrasound was opened in New Plymouth earlier this year by sonographers Emma Wykes and Kimberley Prendergast, and operations manager Lou Easton.

And despite being the new kids on the block, the team are now performing up to 250 ultrasounds a month.

Wykes says the trio were inspired to open their own private practice after reading about the long wait times pregnant women in the region were being faced with.

Kimberley, left, and the team at New Wave Ultrasound are performing up to 250 scans every month.

Last year Taranaki women went public with their concerns over the wait times for ultrasounds, with some saying they were leaving the region to get their 20 week pregnancy dating scans done on time.

The women also raised concerns that the elective 12 week Nuchal Translucency scan, which detects Downs Syndrome, was not offered by the Taranaki DHB and there were no private providers in the region.

Wykes, who moved to Taranaki in 2016, says she was shocked to learn some women were travelling to Palmerston North or Whanganui for their scans.

“The region just did not seem to have the staff to keep up with the ever-growing population,” she said.

“We appreciated a need for a quality ultrasound service that would help with some of the backlog and pressure of ultrasound waiting lists in the region.”

Kimberley Prendergast, left, Emma Wykes, centre, and Lou Easton opened New Wave Ultrasound in January

Prendergast says the practice is now performing about 250 scans a month, including the Nuchal Translucency scan, and general, vascular and musculoskeletal ultrasound.

“We hit the ground running and were fully booked on our first day.”

She says New Wave is a Southern Cross affiliated provider and is also ACC registered, so they make every effort to fit in clinically urgent ultrasound scans and are pleased to say they currently have no waiting list.

“We are really enjoying being able to provide the level of service that we are. We have had a lot of positive feedback from our patients and referrers so that has been awesome.”

Prendergast, who lives in Auckland and flies to New Plymouth every week, has been working in medical imaging for more than a decade, in public and private sectors both in New Zealand and in the UK.

“We love what we do because it is interesting and challenges us everyday,” she says.

“It’s a very rewarding career where we are able to continue to develop professionally. Learning in ultrasound never stops, there is always newer technology and techniques coming out.

“It also gives you a chance to meet some really interesting patients from all walks of life, and get to know them for the 20 or 30 minutes that they are in the room.” 

  • New Wave Ultrasound opened in early 2019 and it has recently relocated to 331 Devon Street East, inside the Bodylogic building. 

* An earlier version of this story did not detail that a Nuchal translucency scan detects Downs Syndrome. This has been updated on June 28, 11.50pm by TCN’s volunteer editor.