Rapid COVID-19 testing in maternity – frequently asked questions

 

1) Why is ESNEFT asking me to take a rapid Coronavirus (COVID-19) test?
The Government has announced that twice weekly rapid Coronavirus (COVID-19) tests are now available to everybody. Pregnant people and their support people are advised to take up this opportunity and test twice a week during pregnancy. This will help make sure any Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection is picked up early and managed.

Pregnant people should also carry out a Coronavirus (COVID-19) test within 24 hours of an appointment. If a support person wishes to accompany them to the appointment, they should also self-administer a test within 24 hours before coming to hospital.

We continue to do everything we can to help to keep our staff, pregnant people, their support person and others attending appointments as safe as possible in our hospitals.

The NHS explains how you can get rapid testing kits here.

 

2) I can’t test at home – can I still have a rapid Coronavirus (COVID-19) test?
Yes. If you are not able to test at home for any reason, voluntary rapid Coronavirus (COVID-19) tests will still be available at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals and the Coastal Birthing Unit at Clacton Hospital for the following appointments:

  • 12 week ultrasound scans
  • 20 week ultrasound scans
  • Fetal medicine appointments
  • Visits to the neonatal unit


3) Who do we mean by support person / support people?
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 person to accompany them at different stages of their pregnancy.

Someone who is pregnant may choose to be accompanied by a different support person at different appointments, as long as all the necessary safety measures, including current lockdown guidance, are followed to make sure pregnant people, the support person, other hospital users and staff are safe.

 

4) What happens if you (the pregnant person) test positive when you have a lateral flow test?
If you receive a positive lateral flow test result, you will then need to have a Coronavirus (COVID-19) swab (of the throat and nose) test. We will carry this out for you before we respectfully send you home to self-isolate for 10 days with any other household contacts, in line with national guidance. You should treat yourself as Coronavirus (COVID-19) positive until you get your swab test result.

The following arrangements will be in place for pregnant people who test positive:

  • 12 and 20 week scan appointments
    You will have to self-isolate for 10 days, in line with Government guidance, and therefore cannot attend your 12 or 20 week scan appointment.  We will rebook your scan appointment to go ahead in 10 days’ time, but if your scan is time dependent we will discuss rearranging the appointment with you within a safe time frame, in line with national screening requirements
  • Neonatal unit visits
    Unfortunately you will not be able to visit the neonatal unit unless there are compassionate or exceptional circumstances. Your support person will also not be allowed to visit the neonatal unit, even if their lateral flow test result is negative. A friend or family member from another household may be nominated to attend in the short term if they have not been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19). Virtual contact with your baby will be supported by our neonatal unit team
  • Fetal medicine appointments
    Your consultant will review whether they can carry out your appointment later on the same day, at the end of the scanning list, or after your 10 day isolation period.  If there is a clinical need for you to be seen on the same day, you will unfortunately have to attend your appointment alone. If you are seen after the 10 day isolation period, your support partner will be able to attend the appointment with you.

 

5) What happens if a support person tests positive when they have a lateral flow test?
If your support person receives a positive lateral flow test result, they will need to book a Coronavirus (COVID-19) swab (of the throat and nose) test by calling NHS 111 or NHS 119. We cannot carry this out for them as they are not a patient under ESNEFT’s care. We will respectfully send them home to self-isolate for 10 days with any other household contacts, in line with national guidance. They should treat themselves as Coronavirus (COVID-19) positive until they get their swab test result.

The following arrangements will be in place for support people who test positive:

  • 12 and 20 week scans
    A support person will unfortunately not be able to attend the 12 or 20 week scan appointment and must go home to self-isolate for 10 days.  The pregnant person will also have to self-isolate for 10 days too, in line with Government guidance.  We will rebook the appointment to go ahead in 10 days’ time, but if your scan is time dependent we will discuss rearranging the appointment with you within a safe time frame, in line with national screening requirements.
  • Accompanying someone in labour
    Unfortunately a support person who tests positive will not be able to accompany a pregnant person in labour at our hospitals.  They will be respectfully asked to leave the maternity unit and self-isolate for 10 days, in line with national guidance.  Pregnant people can choose an alternative support person who has not tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) to accompany them in labour.  Your midwives will discuss the outcome of a positive result in more detail with you and your preferred support person so a contingency plan is in place before you have your baby.
  • Neonatal Unit visits
    A support person who tests positive will unfortunately not be able to visit the neonatal unit, unless there are compassionate or exceptional circumstances. Virtual contact with your baby will be supported by our neonatal unit team.
  • Fetal medicine appointments
    A support person who tests positive will unfortunately not be able to attend fetal medicine appointments. However, accompanying someone who is pregnant in exceptional or compassionate circumstances will be supported by our teams.

 

6) What happens if a lateral flow test is declined?
The following arrangements will be in place if you and/or your support person decline to take a lateral flow test:

  • 12 and 20 week scans

Pregnant person declines a lateral flow test
Providing you have no symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), appointments at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, you will be moved to larger scanning rooms where social distancing can be maintained.

Appointments at the Coastal Birthing Unit at Clacton will go ahead in the same scanning room as planned, with our staff wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). You must wear a face mask at all times, unless you are unable to do so for medical reasons.

If you have symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) your appointment will not be able to go ahead. You and your support person will both have to go home and self-isolate for 10 days, in line with national guidance.

However, if your scan is time dependent we will discuss rearranging the appointment with you within a safe time frame, in line with national screening requirements.

Support person declines a lateral flow test
If your support person declines to be tested they will be able to accompany you for your 12 or 20 week scan, in the same circumstances as outlined above, but only if they do not have any symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Support people must wear a face mask at all times. If they refuse, or are unable to, they will unfortunately not be able to attend your 12 or 20 week scan.

If your support person has symptoms, unfortunately they will not be able to attend the 12 or 20 week scan and your appointment will not be able to go ahead. You will both have to go home and self-isolate for 10 days, in line with national guidance.

  • Fetal medicine appointments

    Pregnant person declines a lateral flow test
    You will be treated as positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19). If you need to be scanned on the same day, and the appointment cannot be rescheduled for clinical reasons, you will have to attend the appointment alone, unless there are exceptional or compassionate circumstances.
  • Support person declines a lateral flow test
    The support person will not be able to attend fetal medicine appointments if they decline to be tested, unless there are exceptional or compassionate circumstances. This is because social distancing cannot be maintained in our scanning rooms.
  • Neonatal unit visiting
    The offer of a lateral flow test is in place to keep our most vulnerable babies safe.
    If you wish to decline the offer, you will still be welcomed on to the neonatal unit to be with your baby, as long as you are symptom free and you have not been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19).
    We do not have space on our neonatal units to isolate babies with their parent and/or support person who decline to be tested.
    Due to COVID-19 only one person (parent or support person) is allowed on the unit at any one time, unless there are exceptional or compassionate circumstances.
    There is no time limit on visiting periods, but we ask that your nominated support person is consistent for the duration of your baby’s stay on the unit.
  • Accompanying someone in labour
    Your support person will be able to attend labour as long as they have no symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and they have not been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19). This will be determined by maternity triage staff who will carry out a telephone risk assessment with your support person before you come into hospital.
    If they decline to be tested, your support person must agree to stick to infection control measures, including wearing a face mask at all times, washing their hands regularly and maintaining a social distance from our staff.

 

7) Who can attend 12 and 20 week scans and fetal medicine appointments with someone who is pregnant at ESNEFT hospitals?
One adult can attend 12 and 20 week scans and fetal medicine appointments with someone who is pregnant at Ipswich, Colchester and Clacton hospitals.

They must not be positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19), or have any symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and they must be able to wear a face mask.

The support person attending the scan will be asked to wait in their car, or outside the maternity unit, until they are called in for their appointment. This is so we can make sure appropriate social distancing can be maintained in our waiting rooms.

After the scan, if no immediate counselling is required the support person should leave the building while any additional care is provided. The support person attending the scan is respectfully asked to:

  • Maintain a 2 metre distance from staff
  • Wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth at all times – support people will be asked to leave the hospital building and will not be able to attend the 12 or 20 week scan if they refuse to do so

 

8) Who can accompany a pregnant person in labour?

  • One support person may accompany someone in labour at our hospitals from the point of admission. They must not be positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19), or have any symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and they must be able to wear a face mask
  • We need to be able to maintain social distancing in our birthing rooms, so unfortunately we cannot increase the number of birthing partners any further at this time

Birthing partners must not be positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19), or have any symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and are respectfully asked to:

  • Maintain a 2 metre distance from staff within 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 and remain in the birthing room with their partner


Induction of labour

  • One support person (ideally from the same household or support bubble) may attend the antenatal ward with someone who is pregnant from when they are admitted, up until 8pm – as long as social distancing can be maintained. They may return if the pregnant person is transferred to delivery suite overnight, or they can come back to the antenatal ward from 8am the next day. They must not be positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19), or have any symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and they must be able to wear a face mask

Caesarean sections

  • One support person (ideally from the same household or support bubble) may attend with a pregnant person to settle them on to the postnatal ward before an elective Caesarean section. To maintain social distancing on the ward, the support person will be asked to wait in their cars, outside our maternity units or in the on-site marquees provided until the pregnant person is ready to go to theatre, unless there are compassionate / exceptional circumstances. Following the birth, the support person may stay in the recovery area and will then be able to go to the postnatal ward where their two hour visit will begin. They must not be positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19), or have any symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and they must be able to wear a face mask
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