Hospitals must allow wider access to maternity partners during pregnancy care


HSE is telling hospitals to further ease restrictions on partners attending maternity care and appointments.

Restrictions on maternity partners’ access to hospitals should be lifted under specific circumstances, HSE Clinical Director Colm Henry said this afternoon.

These include early pregnancy assessment units, prenatal visits for women with high-risk pregnancies and emergency visits at the end of pregnancy.

At a press briefing today, Henry said the HSE was changing visitation policy and asking them [hospitals] and forcing them to open these visiting spaces ”.

“The early pregnancy assessment units are where women can go for an emergency exam, for an emergency condition in early pregnancy, for example,” Henry said.

“Secondly for people who have high risk pregnancies who go to antenatal visits, because their particular anxieties, they may have blood pressure problems, or may have previous pregnancy problems, and indeed, it is particularly important for them to be accompanied by a partner, ”he said.

“And third, the emergency presentations at the end of the trimester – again, an area where there is frequently, naturally, tremendous anxiety.”

Guidelines released in late April said partners could attend 20-week scans and other appointments if deemed necessary.

However, some restrictions are still in force in maternity hospitals, including the prohibition of partners in the bedroom during early labor until their partner is dilated four centimeters.

Partners with possible symptoms of Covid-19 will still not be admitted to maternity hospitals.

“Safety is so important here. Safety means people with symptoms suggestive of Covid – there is no question of these people going to a hospital or healthcare facility because of the risks involved, ”Henry said.

“The other requirement, of course, is that we are not back in the pre-pandemic context from an infection prevention control perspective. We are still in a time where we are trying to prevent the transmission of a virus, where there are now emerging variants, they are even more transmissible, ”he said.

“So I would ask everyone, as we travel on this journey, balancing the rights and needs of women and their partners with safety, to recognize and adhere to any requirements that hospitals have put in place for keep women and ensure the safety of pregnancy. . “

Linda Kelly, maternity care activist and director of Fórsa, said on Newstalk this afternoon that the health department still has some way to go in resolving access issues for partners.

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“The situation is now radically different with all the staff vaccinated, with a lot of pregnant women vaccinated, with a lot of partners now vaccinated,” Kelly said.

“And yet we fail to get it right and it’s confusing at this point,” she said.

In a statement to The newspaper, Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital said it was following guidelines issued by the HSE and the Health Protection Monitoring Center (HPSC).

“La Rotonde Hospital has been one of the most progressive hospitals throughout the pandemic with regards to Covid restrictions, but the unique infrastructural challenges of the Rotonde hospital buildings must be taken into consideration to ensure patient and staff safety, “said a spokesperson for La Rotonde.

“The restrictions are reviewed weekly and are amended to maximize patient safety in light of changes in Covid status. “

Current hospital restrictions allow a designated companion during labor and delivery after the pregnant person has been admitted to a delivery room or operating room and for their 20-22 week check-up.

“Bereavement and unexpected complications are treated with compassion and we adapt the restrictions in these situations,” they said.

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