Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals have had to limit visitors on the labour wards. Our maternity teams were heavily impacted by this national guidance, established to protect patients.
The Trust routinely asked women to attend maternity scans alone. So partners could only attend the delivery suite during the stages of active labour. The situation was difficult for everyone – mums, partners and staff.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is implementing the guidance from NHS England. This will ensure safety procedures are in place to allow partners to attend scans and all stages of labour.
Partners of expectant mothers can now attend EPAC scans. Partners will not be able to attend the growth scan to allow a balance in keeping staff and patients safe.
The move follows the Trust’s earlier change to allow partners to attend the 12-week antenatal scan in September.
Steph El-Malak, head of midwifery at the Trust, said: “This has been an awful situation for everyone. Getting ready to have a baby should be a joyous family occasion, full of excitement.
“But this year it’s been different. Having to limit partners’ involvement in their baby’s scans and delivery has been heart-breaking. It’s been upsetting for everyone.
“I’m thrilled that maternity can now open up our scans and delivery suites for the entire duration of the labour.”
Scanning rooms cleaned
After each appointment, scanning rooms are cleaned to ensure the optimum levels of safety for patients and their partners.
Appointments are shared across both the University Hospital of North Tees or University Hospital of Hartlepool Hospital. This means that families can access their care safely.
The Trust has implemented strict infection control procedures. Staff are reminding the public that reducing the chances of infection of COVID-19 remains everyone’s responsibility.
Steph commented: “We have a duty to our patients, babies and staff to do all we can to minimise infection.
We want to protect everyone involved – mum, baby, the partner and our staff who of course have a responsibility to other families.
What you do outside hospital impacts our scanning rooms and delivery suites.
“Please do what it takes to avoid bringing COVID-19 into our hospitals.”
One birth partner can support a birthing mother. They will be required to remain on the delivery suite for the duration of the labour to limit the risk of infection.