Have the rules on birthing partners and maternity department visitors changed during lockdown?

Ipswich Hospital has changed its visiting rules amid the surge in coronavirus cases Picture: SARAH L

Ipswich Hospital has changed its visiting rules amid the surge in coronavirus cases Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The rise in Covid-19 cases and the introduction of a second lockdown has forced both East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) and West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to review visiting rules again.

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds has also changed its visiting restrictions Picture: GREGG B

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds has also changed its visiting restrictions Picture: GREGG BROWN

Appointments for maternity patients have also been affected by recent changes.

ESNEFT, which manages Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, are permitting one adult from the same household to as the expectant mum to attend the 12 and 20 week ultrasound scans - but the visitor must be the same for both appointments.

Similarly, only one birthing supporter or partner may accompany a patient in labour or for a Caesarian section.

In the antenatal and postnatal wards, one visitor is permitted for 45 minutes each day that the patient is kept in hospital.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of ESNEFT, said the changes were necessary Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

Nick Hulme, chief executive of ESNEFT, said the changes were necessary Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL - Credit: Archant

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Anna Shasha, director of midwifery at ESNEFT, said: “The experience of our new parents is incredibly important to us.

“We will keep these arrangements under regular review and we will keep everyone updated should we need to make any changes.

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“Our number one priority is to keep everyone in our care, and our staff, safe as we continue to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In all other areas of the hospital visiting has been suspended, except in special circumstances.

Those who are permitted visitors include patients receiving end-of-life care, children who can be accompanied by a parent or carer and those with learning disabilities or dementia who may need support.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of ESNEFT, said the changes to visiting rules were “not a decision we have taken lightly”.

He added: “Our ward teams will be making every effort to keep in contact with patients’ families and loved ones.

“We understand how important that reassurance is when someone you care about is in hospital.”

West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, is also enforcing more stringent visiting restrictions in response to rising coronavirus cases.

Expectant mums may also be accompanied by one adult to both 12 and 20 week scans.

One birthing partner, which does not have to be from the same household, is also permitted during labour.

West Suffolk Hospital is allowing patients on its postnatal ward to have one visitor a day for an hour.

Visitors, including those attending out patient appointment, at all hospitals throughout Suffolk and north Essex are required to wear a mask or face covering while on site, while anyone showing any symptoms of coronavirus is urged to stay at home.

MORE: Coronavirus: Your lockdown questions answered

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