As restrictions on partners accompanying pregnant women to all antenatal appointments are lifted, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Hospital Foundation Trust is appealing to all mums-to-be to keep themselves, other patients and staff safe by taking regular self-administered COVID-19 tests.
Lateral Flow Tests, available free of charge from the government, are quick, easy and provide an immediate result for the virus. The government is advising everyone to take a lateral flow test twice a week, a request echoed by Trust midwives as the restriction on partners attending all scans and antenatal appointments is finally lifted.
Steph El-Malak, head of midwifery services at the Trust, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that we can now allow one partner to attend all scans and antenatal appointments with women under our care.
“It’s been heart-breaking to know that our mums have had to attend so many appointments alone, unable to share their joy with a partner. Now things are getting better we can allow one partner to come to all the antenatal appointments, as well as scans.
“We’re asking all our mums and the partner attending the appointments, scans and birth to get the lateral flow kits and take the tests twice a week. Even if they have been vaccinated, there is still a chance they could unknowingly pass on the virus to someone else.
“We’ve done everything we can to avoid breakouts of the virus among our staff as we have so many women relying on us. We’re asking the people we’re caring for to help us by taking the tests.”
Any pregnant woman under the Trust’s care who self-tests as positive is asked to report their result on the government app and call the Trust on 01642 324239/382718 for further advice. Anyone planning to attend an appointment with a pregnant woman who self-tests as positive should report their result and follow all self-isolation guidance and not attend any antenatal appointments or scans.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has strict infection control procedures in place, including mandatory wearing of masks. Patients are requested to follow all COVID-19 regulations in hospital and adhere to any specific advice they may receive before attending hospital for appointments or procedures. Regular testing with Lateral Flow Kits is also advised for outpatients.
Lateral Flow tests can be requested, free of charge, from the government website.
Who do you mean by Partner or Support Person?
The support person may be the baby’s father or co-parent, but it does not need to be. What is important is that the support person is someone chosen by the woman to accompany her at different stages of her maternity journey. Support people are not ‘visitors’ because they carry out a support role.
When should the pregnant woman and their partner or support person take a test?
The Government has announced that twice weekly rapid testing is available to everybody. Pregnant women and their partner or support person are advised to take up this opportunity and undertake testing twice weekly during pregnancy because this will help make sure any COVID-19 infection is picked up early and managed. In any case, women should take a COVID-19 test, either self-administered or at a testing site, within 24 hours before an appointment. If the woman wants a support partner to accompany her to the appointment, they should also self-administer a test within 24 hours before the appointment. However, it is it is recommended twice weekly testing for early detection and management. You will be asked to show evidence of the recorded results.
Is the test mandatory or voluntary?
Tests are voluntary, but women and their partner or support person are strongly encouraged to test to help keep the hospital safe for other women, their families and staff
What happens if a woman declines the offer of a test?
Care will continue with appropriate measures including use of PPE and social distancing.
What happens if a partner or support person declines the offer of a test?
If the partner or support person declines the test, access to accompany the woman to their antenatal appointment will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking mitigating factors, including safe social distancing and the use of PPE, into account.
What happens if the woman gets a positive result?
Where a woman tests positive for COVID-19 in advance of an antenatal appointment, they should contact UHNTH maternity services on: 01642 324239/382718 between 9am – 9pm
What happens if the partner or support person gets a positive result?
The Partner or support person should isolate as set out in Government guidance. The woman can then select an alternative support person who has not tested positive to COVID-19.