What are the current maternity visiting restrictions at Bedfordshire Hospitals?
A reminder of the current maternity visiting guidelines in place at Bedfordshire Hospitals are:
- One visitor is now permitted to stay for two hours a day on our postnatal wards. These are pre-booked time slots.
- One support partner can accompany pregnant women/people at all antenatal / scan appointments
- One support partner can accompany women throughout all stages of labour once on delivery suite
- One support partner can accompany women in theatre for all planned and emergency C-Sections
- When attending appointments and labour, partners are respectfully asked to:
- Take a Lateral Flow Test prior (up to 72hrs) prior to attending the unit
- Wait outside of the antenatal clinic until their partner is called into the scan room for their appointment
- Maintain a 2 metre distance from staff
- Wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth at all times – partners may be asked to leave the hospital building if they are not medically exempt and refuse to wear a face mask
Where does my support partner wait when coming with me to my appointment?
Women should attend and book in for their antenatal / scan appointment at their appointment time on their own. Your support 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.
Do I have to have the same support partner and visitor or can this be shared between my partner and another relative?
In order to prevent the spread of infection in our hospitals we ask that your chosen birth partner providing support to you throughout your labour remains the same. For the same reasons we ask that, the person visiting on our postnatal wards remains the same.
If however your birth partner and/or visitor tests positive for COVID then arrangements can be made for an alternative partner / visitor to attend and support you providing they are well and test negative for COVID.
Can I bring my children with me to my antenatal / scan appointments?
Unfortunately, children are not permitted to attend any appointments and alternative childcare arrangements should be made where possible. This has always been the case for scan appointments even prior to COVID.
Why have other maternity units at other hospitals relaxed their restrictions further, allowing longer visiting periods and two birth partners but Bedfordshire Hospitals does not?
Every hospital and maternity service 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. Restricting the number of people coming onto the hospital sites supports us to continue providing the Maternity Services while, minimising the spread of COVID.
When will the other visiting restrictions be lifted?
The Trust reviews the current restrictions on a regular basis and takes into account factors such as the local prevalence of COVID in the community. Due to the high infection rates currently in the local community, we are not in a position to relax visiting in Maternity services further at present. We will increase visiting access as well as the number of birth partners that can accompany women in labour as soon as we can safely do so. .
The Government have relaxed restrictions now so why aren’t you?
We know that the Government removed the legal obligation to wear facemasks and socially distance on 19th July, however the NHS are maintaining current measures in order to protect the vulnerable patients who use the hospital services.
What is a Lateral Flow Test and how does it work?
A rapid test, also called a lateral flow test, is a test for people who do not have coronavirus symptoms. The lateral flow test is designed to detect the presence or absence of coronavirus by applying a swab or saliva sample to the device’s absorbent pad.
The test will involve you taking a swab of the back of your throat and inside of your nose. You can undertake this test yourself at home if you have a lateral flow test kit or attend one of the local testing centres that can be found via local council websites (see question 8). Lateral flow tests kits are available on request from: https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
It takes less than 15 minutes to self-administer the test, they do not require a laboratory and you will get your result within 30-45 minutes by text or email if attending a centre or view result in 30mins if using a home kit.
How do I get a Lateral Flow Test?
You can find out where to attend for a rapid lateral flow test using the Government website by entering your postcode here: https://maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/
Alternatively, you can order a test online here: https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests or if you cannot order online, call 119. Lines are open 7am to 11pm and calls are free.
What should I do with my test results?
When attending either Bedford Hospital or the Luton and Dunstable (L&D) Hospital’s maternity units, please advise of yours and your support partner’s test results to the member of maternity staff at the reception desk.
What happens if my lateral flow test is positive but my support partner’s is negative?
If your support partner has been in contact with you within the last 48hrs then they will not be able to attend the maternity unit, even if their own test is negative. They will be legally required to self-isolate for 10 days.
However, even though you have tested positive for coronavirus, it is important that we still see you so that we can care for you and your baby. The team caring for you will wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure the safety of you, your baby and the staff caring for you.
My support partner has tested positive
If your support partner tests positive then they will not be able to accompany you at this time and must self-isolate at home, in line with national guidance. We still need to see you and will try to re-arrange for when your support partner is able to attend with you but this may not always be possible to re-arrange.
What do I do if I have had a positive coronavirus test in the last 90 days?
If you’ve had a positive PCR test (so not a lateral flow test but a laboratory confirmed test) result in the last 90 days (not including the last 10 days in which you would be required to self-isolate), and you have no symptoms, then you will not need to be tested. This is because an infection can continue to show as a positive result for up to 90 days afterwards without you being infectious.
I have concerns about my pregnancy, where can I find out more information?
If you have any concerns about your pregnancy, please contact your named Midwife or call to speak to a member of the maternity team at Bedford Hospital on 01234 795805 or 01582 329574 for the L&D Hospital.
You can find more information on pregnancy and coronavirus on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/pregnancy-and-coronavirus/