Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed from the 26 October 2020, visiting restrictions in maternity services will be relaxed further. Partners will now be allowed to accompany women at their dating scan (11-14wks) appointment as well as being allowed to stay with women during all times whilst on the Delivery Suite not just in established labour. This is in addition to partners now able to attend the 20wks scan appointments which was announced last month.
We know the additional relaxing of restrictions will be welcome news to women and their partners as they will be able to share the experience of these important antenatal appointments and get the additional support during all stages of labour. This change is applicable to both Bedford Hospital and the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital.*
We have always understood the anxieties and stress maternity visiting restrictions are having on our maternity patients. As such, we continue to work hard with maternity teams and partner organisations to identify how we can further ease restrictions safely, allowing a partner to be present for more antenatal and postnatal appointments.
The Trust is hoping to re-introduce at a later date restricted visiting on our maternity wards. This continues to be a focus of discussions to introduce as soon as it is safe to do so.
When there are higher incidences of COVID-19 cases locally we have to be extremely careful about further lifting visiting restrictions. As such, it’s important to note that these relaxing of restrictions could change at short notice if it becomes unsafe to continue. We still do 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.
*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.
FAQs for added clarification
Where does my partner wait for my dating scan (11-14wks) and 20wks scan?
- 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
Why have other maternity units at other hospitals have relaxed restrictions and Bedfordshire Hospitals doesn’t?
- 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. We have only been able to continue the service uninterrupted by restricting the number of people coming onto the hospital site, minimising the spread of COVID
What about other scan appointments? Can my partner attend these?
- 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
What if I receive sad news at one of my scan appointments?
- Both sites have bereavement areas to provide a comfortable space for women – a partner will of course be allowed to be with you at this difficult time
When will the other visiting restrictions be lifted?
- 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.