Press Release – 21 September 2020

Sarah Owen MP welcomes local NHS Trust decision to allow expectant parents to attend 20 weeks scan together

Comment from Luton North’s Labour MP Sarah Owen on the announcement by Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust that partners will be allowed to accompany pregnant women at their 20 week scan appointment at Bedford Hospital and the Luton & Dunstable University Hospital:

“This local decision to allow partners to attend the 20 week scan together will mean a lot to expectant parents in Luton and I know that amazing staff at the L&D will be working hard to make things as safe as possible as we continue to take on this virus.”

“It’s so important that expectant Mums who need support from loved ones can get it. Scans and doctors appointments are usually joyous moments, but from personal experience I know they can be anxious times as well.”

For further details on the announcement from the NHS Trust, please see below


STAKEHOLDER STATEMENT

Important information about hospital maternity services in Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed from the 21 September 2020, partners will be allowed to accompany women at their 20wks scan appointment. We know this will be welcome news to women and their partners as they will be able to share the experience of this important antenatal appointment. This change is applicable to both Bedford Hospital and the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital.*

We understand the anxieties and additional stress the current visiting restrictions are having on our maternity patients. As such we are working hard with maternity teams and partner organisations to identify how we can further ease restrictions, allowing a partner to be present for more antenatal and postnatal appointments.

Throughout the pandemic a birthing partner has always been able to be in the delivery room during established labour and /or caesarean section. The Trust is hoping to re-introduce at a later date one partner to be present for all stages of labour and inductions of labour once women start to experience contractions. Restricted visiting to maternity wards are also within our discussions to introduce as soon as it is safe to do so.

Liz Lees, Chief Nurse at Bedfordshire Hospitals said,

“It’s completely understandable for pregnant women to be feeling anxious about having a baby in hospital at this current time of a global health pandemic. We know it can be terrifying and we do respect and acknowledge everyone’s concerns around restrictions in place. This is why no decision we make is taken lightly and weekly reviews and monitoring are taking place to assess the situation. We appreciate that some women and their families will be disappointed that we’re unable to ease the restrictions further at this time, but the safety of our patients and staff has to be our priority. These measures are in place to keep everyone safe.”

Latest Public Health England data* shows that both Luton and Bedford boroughs have higher rates of infection and are a concern. When there are higher incidences of COVID cases locally we have to be extremely careful about lifting visiting restrictions. We need to limit the footfall on both hospital sites to not only protect patients but to also protect our staff, keep them well so they can continue to provide safe and essential quality patient care.

We constantly risk assess and review restrictions (as per maternity visitors guidelines) by understanding local incidence rates, and the environment of both hospital sites to ensure we can safely deliver high quality care whilst keeping women and families safe.

Reference Points

*1 – The Trust would like to remind all patients and partners attending the hospital for appointments that facemasks should be worn at all times (unless medically exempt) along with adhering to social distancing measures in place and frequently using hand washing facilities or available hand sanitiser where necessary.

*2 – PHE sends weekly data to hospital Trusts and Local Authorities regarding the local rates of infection within the community. These are published weekly on both Bedford and Luton Borough Council’s websites.

FAQs for added clarification

  1. Where does my partner wait for my 20wks scan?  
  2. Women should attend and book in for their scan appointment at their appointment time on their own. Your partner should wait outside of the maternity entrance and will be telephoned by their partner and advised of the scan room number once the patient has been called in for their scan. Once the scan is completed the partner will leave the scan department and the patient will wait for their report and notes.
  1. What about other scan appointments? Can my partner attend these?
  2. Unfortunately not at present. The Trust reviews the current restrictions on a weekly basis and takes into account factors such as the local prevalence of COVID in the community. We really want to be in a position to allow partners back in to attend more appointments with women but we have to prioritise the safety of everyone and it just isn’t the right time to further relax these restrictions
  1. What if I receive sad news at one of my scan appointments?
  2. Both sites have bereavement areas to provide a comfortable space for women – a partner will be allowed to be with you at this difficult time should it be needed
  1. Once I go to the postnatal ward after the birth of my baby will my partner be able to visit?  
  2. Unfortunately not at present. The Trust reviews the current restrictions on a weekly basis and takes into account factors such as the local prevalence of COVID in the community. We really want to be in a position to allow partners back in to attend more appointments with women and visit on the wards but we have to prioritise the safety of everyone and it just isn’t the right time to further relax these restrictions. This position can change quite rapidly and we will waste no time in easing them when safe to do so.
  1. When will the other visiting restrictions be lifted?
  2. The Trust reviews the current restrictions on a weekly basis and takes into account factors such as the local prevalence of COVID in the community. We really want to be in a position to allow partners back in to attend more appointments with women and visit on the wards but we have to prioritise the safety of everyone and it just isn’t the right time to further relax these restrictions. This position can change quite rapidly and we will waste no time in easing them when safe to do so.
  1. How many birth partners can I bring with me?
  2. One. Throughout the pandemic a birthing partner has always been able to be in the delivery room during established labour or caesarean section, however the Trust is hoping to re-introduce at a later date one partner to be present for all stages of labour and inductions of labour once you start to have contractions.
  1. Why have other maternity units at other hospitals have relaxed restrictions and Bedfordshire Hospitals doesn’t?
  2. Every hospital and maternity department is set up differently, with sized waiting rooms, clinic appointment rooms, ward layouts and labour rooms. As safety is always our number one priority, all areas and rooms are risk assessed to determine how many people can safely be in each room while following the national guidelines on safe social distancing. We have only been able to continue the service uninterrupted by restricting the number of people coming onto the hospital sites, minimising the spread of COVID.