Watford MP Dean Russell calls to ease restrictions during birth


The Watford MP is calling on the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust to ease Covid-19 visiting restrictions for people going through the birthing process.

MP Dean Russell is joining the national campaign started by Alicia Kearns, the MP from Rutland Melton, to urge NHS Trusts to ease visiting restrictions.

Current restrictions at the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust allows one named birth partner for a limited time during the entire birthing process, due to coronavirus safety concerns.

For the duration of labour, one named birth partner is allowed, but after birth no visitors are allowed on the postnatal ward.

No visitors are allowed at the antenatal ward, or during the triage, maternity day assessment unit, antenatal clinic, and ultrasound scan.

As lockdown restrictions eased, the Department of Health has advised that NHS Trust should remove restrictions for partners or immediate families supporting women during pregnancy scans and labour.

While some trusts have followed suit, many haven’t, including the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Mr Russell said: “I am pleased to support this campaign. Pregnant women deserve to be supported in full and that means a partner, family member or close friend being able to attend scans and early labour.

“I want to thank West Herts Hosptial Trust (WHHT) who I know now do allow for a birth partner to attend the active birth. However, we need to progress further on this with some urgency with Trusts across the country. I have written to the CEO of WHHT to speak further with her about this issue.”

The campaign has already received the support of major pregnancy charities and over 60 MPs across the country.

Speaking on the support from the Watford MP, Mrs Kearns said: “As a pregnant woman myself, I know just how difficult it can be for young mothers.

“Pregnancy is full of surprises; often joyous, but sometimes tragic. I have heard stories of women who have been forced to deliver still-borns all alone, and to go through traumatic births with no family support at all.

“NHS Trusts must be compassionate, must do right by women and their partners, and loosen restrictions immediately.”

In July, Abbots Langley mother Sarah Mullord backed a similar national petition as she expressed her nervousness in the build up to her second child in August.

But Tracey Carter, the chief nurse at West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, says that the restrictions will continue for the time being due to the ongoing pandemic.

She said: “The visiting restrictions which are currently in place across the Local Maternity System have not been taken lightly as we appreciate the significant impact they have on women and their families.

“These restrictions have been considered in line with individual workplace based risk assessments, national guidance and recommendations.

“We will continue to do all we can to support women and their families, whilst creating a safe environment, during this difficult time.”

There are exceptions to the visiting restrictions for women in labour, including a parent / carer of patients under 18-years-old, a carer for patients requiring assistance, and a relative collecting a patient being discharged.

More information on restrictions during the labour process can be found here.

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