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Rotunda Hospital to relax some Covid-19 restrictions for partners from Monday

The hospital has issued new guidelines following the public criticism.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

DUBLIN’S ROTUNDA HOSPITAL is to relax restrictions on partners just days after controversy broke out about access granted to an RTE film crew.

The hospital suffered a public backlash when it emerged that documentary makers were granted access to their wards while restrictions remained for the partners of expectant mothers. 

It led to the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly criticising the decision. 

Now, this morning, the hospital has announced that it will ease restrictions and allow longer visiting hours for partners. 

In a statement the Rotunda Hospital linked the changes, not to the controversy, but to vaccine rates.

It said that there had been a “a significant uptake in Covid-19 vaccination rates” amongst its patient population.

“In response to this significant improvement in vaccination rates, effective Monday September 13, 2021, the Rotunda will now be able to extend visiting hours for partners to 08.00am to 08.00pm each day.

“All other existing access controls to keep all patients safe continue to apply. This brings the Rotunda’s visiting arrangements close to pre-pandemic levels and remains vastly more accessible to arrangements that remain at almost all acute general hospitals in the state.

“The Rotunda’s management team will continue to keep these arrangements under regular review, taking all necessary precautions to keep all our patients safe, while making decisions that are evidenced and based on current Infection Prevention and Control guidance,” it said. 

The Rotunda still has some restrictions in place in relation to Covid-19 controls. Partners are allowed join pregnant women once they have been moved to a delivery suite.

Yesterday the hospital said it “very much regrets any upset or anxiety” caused by the broadcasting of the new series filmed in the hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Rotunda spokesperson said the hospital was “keenly aware of the strong positive reaction (including from very senior politicians) to the RTÉ Investigates: Inside Ireland’s Covid Battle documentary series which was broadcast in July 2020″. 

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly issued stinging rebukes of the decision by management at the Rotunda Hospital to allow filming for a television series to go ahead at the height of Covid restrictions. 

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The Taoiseach said he didn’t think the production was appropriate.

“I don’t think it is appropriate that if partners were denied access that a TV crew should be allowed in,” he said in response to a question from The Journal at a press event to mark the end of his party think-in, being held in Co Cavan.

Martin said there needed to be consistency around the rules and that he could understand the public’s annoyance and anger in relation to the programme. 

He added that he was not privy to the decision-making process surrounding the production or the framework that allowed for the filming to go ahead.

However, he said we “can’t have one set of guidance for partners and another set of guidelines for the media when we are talking about Covid-19″. 

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