Rachael Corser, chief nurse at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, has today confirmed plans for further easing of restrictions for nominated partners of women being cared for by our maternity team.
Our priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is to ensure women in our care are kept safe, and we know how important it is to women and their families to be able to share these special moments in their lives.
We continue to work in close collaboration with our local Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP), which is made up of a group of women and their families who provide a voice for the women who use our maternity services.
We have consistently supported women in active labour to have their birthing partner present, and we have continued to allow essential visitors, such as carers, to attend appointments and scans, and to accompany women in the antenatal or postnatal period as necessary. This is to ensure these women can access their healthcare fairly.
Following risk assessments, changes were announced in both September and December 2020 to our policy, ensuring:
- One nominated birthing partner can be present for early labour assessments taking place in single rooms, throughout active labour, and the immediate postnatal period
- One nominated partner can attend during the 12-week dating/nuchal scan, and the 20-week anomaly scan
- One nominated partner can attend during antenatal contacts associated with the specialist bereavement or mental health
Further easing of restrictions are set to take place in the coming weeks. These are as follows:
- From Monday 22 March, women in our care can be accompanied by one nominated partner when attending our Early Pregnancy Unit within our Diamond Jubilee Maternity Unit at Lister Hospital in Stevenage
- From Monday 22 March, women attending a growth scan will be able to share a short video call with a nominated partner at the end of the scan, while the attendance of a nominated partner is under review. Further details on video calling will be provided on the day
- From Monday 29 March, a woman’s nominated birth partner can attend the antenatal ward while they are waiting for an elective caesarean section within our Diamond Jubilee Maternity Unit at Lister Hospital
- From Monday 29 March, a woman’s nominated birth partner can accompany them if admitted for induction of labour within our Diamond Jubilee Maternity Unit at Lister Hospital. Please note, unfortunately we are currently not able to offer overnight stays (between 9:00pm and 7:30am) as our inpatient facilities are not suitable for this.
- From Monday 12 April, a woman’s nominated birth partner can attend antenatal and postnatal wards within our Diamond Jubilee Maternity Unit at Lister Hospital – with a specified visiting slot of at least an hour
- From Monday 17 May, the length of postnatal and antenatal visiting slots will be increased, enabling the nominated birth partner to spend more time on the ward
The nominated partner will be required to wear a face covering or provided with a face mask when attending – these are available at all our hospital entrances.
There are extended waiting areas to support social distancing which will be clearly signposted when you arrive.
More information about each of these steps is available on the maternity section of our website on the COVID-19 maternity restrictions page.
We are also producing step-by-step guides to explain what you can expect in each of the settings where one nominated partner can attend, and these will be available as links on the COVID-19 maternity restrictions page under the relevant heading prior to the changes coming into effect.
Please adhere to these rules which are in place to keep everyone safe and be respectful to our staff – we have a zero tolerance policy towards abusive and intimidating behaviour.
This timeline to further reduce the restrictions in our maternity unit is in line with the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, and therefore is subject to change if national guidance changes or if COVID-19 becomes more prevalent.
We will continue to work closely with the MVP and listen to the views of those in our care and their families, and are committed to providing a supportive and positive maternity experience for everyone.