West Herts hospitals will ease visiting restrictions during birth

Maternity visiting restrictions will ease at west Hertfordshire hospitals, following a public campaign.

The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust will make changes to the maternity visiting guidance to allow birthing partners to be more present during the birthing process starting from next Monday (October 5).

With these changes, birthing partners can now attend the dating scan and can be present after confirmation of the start of the birthing process, not just when active labour begins.

Previously, the trust only allowed 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 was allowed, but after birth no visitors were allowed on the postnatal ward.

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

In a tweet announcing the new visiting guidance, the NHS Trust said: “We have listened to the concerns raised and will be making the following changes to maternity visiting guidance from Monday 5 October.”

With the new guidance, visitors will still be restricted after birth on the postnatal ward and at the antenatal ward.

Watford MP Dean Russell recently backed a national campaignstarted by Alicia Kearns, the MP from Rutland Melton, to urge NHS Trusts to ease restrictions during the birthing process.

In response to the announcement of the new guidance, Mr Russell said: "After having written to the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust on this matter, I am pleased to see they have taken the decision to lift significant visitor restrictions on maternity patients.

“I felt it was incredibly important that pregnant women are supported not just during active labour, but throughout the entirety of their pregnancy.

“I want to thank the Hospital Trust for working so hard to make these changes possible. It is a very welcomed step forward. I will continue to support the national campaign for hospital trusts to lift all restrictions on maternity visitors, including for all scans and postnatal."

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

At the time, she said that mothers go through a mixture of emotions during birth, and that mental health was not being considered with the restrictions.

Tracey Carter, the chief nurse at the trust, initially said visiting restrictions would not change due to the ongoing pandemic, before the U-turn.

Now, the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust wrote: “We have continually reviewed our visiting restrictions in consultation with the Maternity Voices Partnership and in line with our risk assessments, national guidance, and recommendations – including the ‘Framework to assist NHS trusts to reintroduce access for partners, visitors and other supporters of pregnant women in English maternity services’ released on 8 September 2020.

“We will continue to support women and their families during this difficult time while we work together with the MVP to maintain a safe environment within our maternity services across Hertfordshire and West Essex.”

To find out more information about the new visiting restrictions, visit here.

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