07/01/2022 | Press releases

Changes to maternity visiting guidance in ESNEFT hospitals

Visiting guidance in maternity units at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) is being updated to keep expectant parents, babies, and staff safe.

The Trust’s maternity teams are now caring for more pregnant people who have tested positive for COVID-19. They are also seeing an increasing number of positive cases among pregnant people in Suffolk and north east Essex as community infection rates rise. COVID-19 is also impacting maternity staffing at the Trust.

This means visiting guidance to maternity units at Colchester, Ipswich and Clacton hospitals must urgently change from Saturday 8 January.

The changes are:

  • Only one named birthing partner may accompany someone in labour from the point of their admission to the maternity unit.
  • Visiting to antenatal and postnatal wards at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals will be from 10.30am-6.30pm every day for one named visitor (this should be the birthing partner). Outside of labour, someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 cannot have a visitor on antenatal and postnatal wards.

ESNEFT Chief Nurse Giles Thorpe


Why are these changes being made?

Giles Thorpe is Chief Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention and Control at ESNEFT.

He said: “We’re making the very difficult decision to restrict some visiting in our maternity units due to the high number of COVID-19 infections in the community and the increasing number of pregnant people with the virus in our hospitals.

“COVID-19 is also having a significant impact on staffing in maternity and making these changes will mean we can continue to provide high quality, safe care to pregnant people and their babies.

“This isn’t what we want to do, but it is what have to do so we can continue to keep everyone safe in our hospitals.

“We will be keeping this situation under close and regular review, and we will ease the restrictions as quickly and as safely as possible. However, we can’t rule out that further restrictions may be needed if infections and hospital admissions continue to rise.

“The situation we are facing reiterates the importance of getting vaccinated against the virus and I would urge anyone who is expecting a baby, or planning to have a baby, to take up the offer of a COVID-19 vaccine. It is the best way to prevent you from becoming seriously unwell and needing hospital treatment and it will help to keep you and your baby safe during your pregnancy.”


Reminders for birthing partners
Birthing partners must not be positive for COVID-19, or have any symptoms of COVID-19 and they must be able to wear a face mask.

Expectant parents are encouraged to have a second birthing partner on standby, should their preferred birthing partner test positive for COVID-19. They must not come into hospital.

Birthing partners are respectfully asked to:

  • maintain a two-metre distance from staff in the birthing room
  • wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth at all times – birthing partners will be asked to leave the hospital building if they refuse to do so
  • stay at the bedside (apart from when taking bathroom breaks) and remain in the birthing room with their partner


Other appointments in maternity services

Arrangements for induction of labour, caesarean sections, attending scans and all other maternity appointments remain unchanged for now.

However, the Trust expects both a pregnant person and their support partner to take a quick test for COVID-19 (lateral flow test) before attending any appointment in maternity services.

Any partners who test positive are not able to attend and must stay at home and self-isolate. If you are pregnant and test positive, please reschedule your appointment. If your partner tests positive, and you test negative, please let us know so alternative arrangements can be made for you to safely attend.

Unfortunately, children are not able to attend any maternity appointments or visit antenatal and postnatal wards, apart from in exceptional or compassionate circumstances.

Surgical face masks must be worn at all appointments in ESNEFT hospitals to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission unless you are exempt. They must always cover your nose and mouth. You will be asked to leave the hospital building if you refuse to wear a face mask.

Please respect our staff and be kind if you are asked to put on a face mask or adjust it. Our teams are just doing their jobs and following national Infection Prevention and Control guidance by asking you to wear a face mask in our hospitals.

Detailed guidance for attending maternity appointments and visits.


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