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Monday 4 December 2023 Dublin: 3°C
Sam Boal/
Mother and Baby

HSE pressures maternity hospitals to follow guidelines and allow partners attend

In a letter, Dr Colm Henry suggests that the guidance has not been implemented by some hospitals.

THE HSE HAS written to hospitals reminding management that partners of pregnant women should expect to be present at 20-week scans unless there is a “documented risk” based on a Covid-19 or other outbreak. 

In the letter from the HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry, he outlines that all hospitals should ensure that they are “implementing the current national guidance” which would allow partners into scans. 

The issue of restrictions at maternity hospitals has been raised repeatedly during the course of the pandemic but HSE CEO Paul Reid said yesterday he believed that “conditions are right” for partners to be allowed greater access. 

Hospitals can make individual decisions on their own restrictions but Reid said yesterday that the HSE would be writing to all hospitals outlining the guidance that is in place. 

In that memo, Henry cites Covid-19 guidance on visiting hospitals and says that it is “generally appropriate” to facilitate a partner visiting when someone is an inpatient in a maternity hospital. It notes that most stays are for a short duration. 

The guidance states that partners should be facilitated during childbirth and if a child is in the neonatal unit. 

In regards to 20-week scans, the memo adds: 

Patients should normally expect to bring a partner or other accompanying person to their 20-week scan and to other appointments if there is reason to anticipate that the visit is likely to involve communication of particular emotional significance.  

In his letter, Henry suggests that guidance has not been implemented by some hospitals in that partners are not be facilitated when they should. 

Yesterday, The Journal spoke to several women who shared their pregnancy experience online in the under the hashtag ‘WhoseNeedsAreBeingMet’.

“I note that we continue to see reports in the media from women and their partners reporting that partners have not had access in circumstances in which it appears that they could expect to have access if the national guidance was implemented,” Henry says in the memo. 

I am sure you agree that this is a cause of distress to patients and their partners at a very important time in their lives and should only happen if it is absolutely essential to safe operation of the maternity services.

“In that context I would be grateful if you could request that all HSE hospitals providing maternity services confirm that they are implementing the current national guidance.”

Henry notes that “there may be local operational issues such as an outbreak of Covid-19″ that require additional limits on access but that these should be in place “for a period of time”.

“However any such additional limits on should be based on a documented risk assessment that is reviewed regularly,” he adds. 

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