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New guidance for maternity hospitals on allowing partners attend 12-week scans and C-sections

Dr Colm Henry said hospitals have to balance the needs of pregnant women with the risk to unvaccinated women.

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THE HSE IS to issue new national guidance tomorrow on the easing of restrictions at maternity hospitals to allow partners to attend 12-week scans and to be present during caesarean sections.

There has been criticism in recent months of the different approaches taken by maternity hospitals, with some having tighter restrictions on partner access during labour and at pre-natal appointments.

Last week the HSE said some hospitals were still not fully compliant with national guidance on the easing of these restrictions for partners.

In an update today Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said he had been assured they were all now compliant with the current guidance on postnatal visits, attendance in labour wards, admittance to neonatal units, presence at 20-week anomaly scans, the early pregnancy assessment unit, attendance for high risk pregnancies and attendance at Emergency Departments.

Dr Henry said the HSE is now asking infection prevention and control teams at hospitals to examine additional areas such as 12-week scans and caesarean sections.

At the HSE’s weekly briefing he said: “We’re trying to get our way back towards where we were before this pandemic and the difficulty is can we get back to where we were pre-pandemic? Of course it’s very hard to unravel and pretend the pandemic isn’t there because we know also the risk the virus presents, particular to unvaccinated pregnant women, those risks are better documented now than they were before.

Our task is to balance the core requirement of the patient, of women and their partners being present as much as possible during antenatal and during care, labour, postnatal care with the need also to protect women and their pregnancies from a risk that we know is there.

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Dr Henry said the hospitals have been instructed to follow-up any complaints about a lack of compliance with the current guidance. He said they have also been told that improved communication is required in situations where restrictions have to be reinstated or where exceptions arise. 

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