Guidance for visiting maternity wards and attending ultrasound scans has changed at hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT).
The Trust has been looking at how it can safely ease the existing restrictions in maternity services. These had to be put in place due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Not all of the restrictions can be lifted yet, but some changes are being made to support pregnant women and their families.
Attending ultrasound scans
We know how important it is to our patients that they are able to have a partner or loved one with them for their ultrasound scan.
From Monday 6 July, one adult from the same household can attend 12 and 20 week scans with a pregnant woman at Ipswich, Colchester and Clacton hospitals.
During the peak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, pregnant women had been asked to attend their scans alone.
In line with national guidance, both the pregnant woman and whoever she brings with her will be required to wear a face covering during the appointment. If you do not have one, we will provide one for you.
Under current Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines, children are not able to attend any ultrasound scans.
Members of our staff will also be wearing surgical face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep you and themselves safe.
You will be contacted by a member of the ultrasound team if you are due for a 12 or 20 week scan. They will explain what you need to do if you are bringing someone with you when you come to hospital.
If you already have a date booked for your 12 or 20 week scan, unfortunately we are unable to reschedule it to coincidence with these new arrangements for ultrasound scan attendance.
Visiting our maternity wards
Limited visiting has been re-introduced on maternity wards at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals.
This is in line with national guidance on hospital visiting during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
One visitor a day can now see a woman who has been on either antenatal or postnatal wards for more than 48 hours.
The visit will be for 45 minutes and we ask that this visitor remains consistent. It could be a woman’s birth supporter/partner. Under current Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines, children are not able to visit.
If a woman has been on a maternity ward for more than 48 hours, the ward clerk or healthcare professional looking after her will be able to arrange a visiting slot.
Staggered visiting times are running from 10am to 9pm, seven days a week.
When you come to visit, please make sure you:
- Have booked a time to visit the ward. Please stick to the agreed timings
- Wear a face covering (please supply your own) when coming into hospital. This can be as simple as a scarf or bandana tied behind your head.
- Observe social distancing at all times and wash/sanitise your hands regularly
- Do not linger in shops or communal areas
- Do not visit if you if you have COVID-19 symptoms, including: High temperature, a new continuous cough, loss or change in sense of smell, loss or change in sense of taste
We understand pregnant women may prefer to have two birthing partners with them when they have their babies. We also understand this is important to them.
While there has been a review of the existing social distancing guidance, the government is still recommending that people keep two metres away from each other as a precaution and this will also apply in our hospitals.
For now, this means the current rules for birthing partners will not be changing.
To keep everyone safe, the following restrictions remain in place:
- Only one birthing partner may accompany a woman in labour
- Only the pregnant woman may attend for an induction. When she is in established labour she can be joined by her birthing supporter/partner
- Only one birthing supporter/partner may attend with a woman for an elective Caesarean section
Only pregnant women (the patient) may also attend these appointments:
- Maternity triage
- All antenatal appointments (including appointments with a consultant)
Anna Shasha, Director of Midwifery at ESNEFT, said: “The safety and wellbeing of our patients and staff is our number one priority.
“We would like to reassure our women that we will make other changes in maternity services as quickly and safely as we can.
“No two maternity units are the same. We have to carefully assess our own sites and facilities, including the size of rooms we use, for example, to make sure we can stick to the two metre rule.
“For now, some of our restrictions have to remain in place to keep everyone safe.”
Melissa Dowdeswell is Chief Nurse at ESNEFT.
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She said: “We understand this has been a difficult time for pregnant women and their families.
“We are very pleased we can make these immediate changes to visiting and that we can update our guidance on the attendance of ultrasound scans, which comes into effect on Monday 6 July.
“We have to make decisions to keep women, their babies and our staff safe, but we recognise some of those decisions are upsetting and worrying.
“We are constantly reviewing the restrictions we have in place. We will share updates with our women when we are able to relax restrictions further.”