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Reintroduction of visitors in maternity services in England

PUBLISHED

A framework has been developed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives and the Society and College of Radiographers, in partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement, to support maternity services with the local reintroduction of hospital visitors and individuals accompanying women to appointments.

During the pandemic, some Trusts in England have allowed partners to attend antenatal appointments and pregnancy scans, but there has not been a consistent approach across the country, leading to frustration and confusion among pregnant women and their partners.

In a recent hub blog, Jules Mckoy, a Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Midwife at University Hospital Southampton, highlighted the huge rise in pregnant women reporting feelings of anxiety because of being isolated from friends and relatives and their concerns for the safety of their baby, themselves and their families. 

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We welcome the publication of this framework to support Trusts in England safely re-introduce measures enabling partners to attend to antenatal and postnatal appointments, including pregnancy scans. This is an important step for the health and wellbeing of pregnant women and their partners, who have understandably found it difficult not to share the experience of a pregnancy scan, attend important appointments, support women in early labour or spend time with their newborn babies on the postnatal ward."

“With the re-introduction of partners in maternity settings, it’s important that anyone attending hospitals and clinics for appointments and scans wears a face covering and ensures they practice social distancing and regular hand washing. These measures are in place to keep pregnant women, partners and staff safe.”

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Visiting restrictions during the pandemic have been challenging for everybody, particularly for pregnant women and their families at an incredibly important and transformative time in their lives. These new guidelines are good news for them and for staff. They set out clearly the rules around visiting, providing much needed clarity about who can visit and the precautions they need to take to ensure visits can be done safely for themselves, for the people they are visiting, and for staff."

“The guidance will also be welcome by maternity staff who have experienced some aggression from a small minority of visitors, unhappy and confused with varying and changing guidance.”

Source: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 8 September 2020

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