Posted: 14.09.20 at 17:35 by The Editor
The United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust has announced an easing of restrictions on partners accompanying expectant mums at hospital.
The move follows changes in government guidelines last week, plus a campaign by Rutland MP Alicia Kearns, who herself is an expectant mum.
As Nub News reported yesterday, the MP says hospitals trusts could have eased restrictions on partners and family members, but many have not.
This afternoon, the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust announced a raft of changes on its website, which will come into effect from tomorrow.
The website said: "We have been working hard reviewing guidance, ordering and installing equipment and looking at innovative ways we can reintroduce further visiting to the Maternity wards and Antenatal Appointments."
It continued: "Partners can now attend 36/40 Consultant Appointments in ANC at the hospitals
"Women should still attend Community Midwifery appointments alone in GP Surgeries and Children Centres
"Women may now bring one person with them to any appointment in the Antenatal Assessments Centres"
It also announced: "Visiting to the Maternity wards has now been extended from 1 hour to 3 hour slots this now includes the Induction of labour process."
The Website added: "Our priority must be the safety of all pregnant women, staff and visitors.
"Our Maternity Teams are working hard as always to ensure you and your baby are kept safe and you have a positive experience of birth during the Covid-19 outbreak."
And after announcing other changes, it added: "We are ready and waiting to care for you and you baby, pandemic or not."
Penny Snowden, Deputy Chief Nurse for North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, which serves Bourne, Stamford and the Deepings, said: “At the beginning of the pandemic the Trust implemented visiting restrictions in line with national guidance to protect our patients, visitors and staff from the spread of Covid-19.
"We continuously reviewed this decision as the pandemic progressed and when we considered it safe to do so, were one of the first Trust’s to allow partners to attend antenatal scans and introduce structured visiting times.
“Currently, partners can attend routine antenatal scans in our Maternity Departments. Birthing partners are also allowed to join women on our labour wards, once active labour has begun and can stay for up to four hours or until mum and baby have moved to the postnatal ward.
"If mum and baby are required to stay in hospital for monitoring, one visitor will be allowed for one hour a day as per our visitor guidance for inpatients across our hospitals.
“We understand the emotional distress that the restrictions caused women and their families but it was and remains imperative that we keep the safety of our patients and staff as our main priority.
"Despite it not being the same as having a loved one with them our staff offer all women emotional support during their labour and if they are required to spend time on the postnatal ward. We will continue to review restrictions and make adjustments where possible.”
Yesterday, national media reported how Mrs Kearns and more than 60 other Conservative MPs signed a letter to the Chairs and Chief Executives of NHS Trusts.
Ms Kearns urged all NHS Trusts to allow women to have a supportive person present for all scans and during every stage of labour, and for this message to be swiftly communicated to expectant mothers and their support network.
She also highlighted the horrific experiences of women who had attended scans alone to find their baby had died or who had undergone traumatic c-sections without any support.
In response, the Mail on Sunday has backed Ms Kearns’ campaign, and made it a campaign of their own – putting the story on their front page on Sunday.
The Rutland and Melton MP said: "Being pregnant is wonderful, but difficult at the best of times and it is truly heart-breaking that women across the country are not being treated equally at this huge milestone in their lives.
“Expectant mothers and their partners or loved ones deserve better, and my colleagues and I will continue to campaign on this most important of issues until it is resolved”.
The MP also noted the situation at other trusts in the region:
University Hospitals Of Leicester NHS Trust – All restrictions lifted
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust – Partners may attend scan appointments and birth, but must leave soon after the birth of their child if it is not within visiting hours.
Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – Can attend both scans and birth but not early labour.