MLA calls on health trusts to implement relaxations on birthing partners "fairly"

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by Q Radio News

Concerns have been raised that some Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland are not allowing birthing partners to attend pregnancy scans.

It is despite rules being implemented last week, meaning expectant mothers no longer had to attend scans alone.. 

Previously, due to covid-19 and the risk of spreading the virus, partners were not allowed to accompany women to scans.

DUP MLA Pam Cameron, who is the vice-chair of Stormont's Health Committee has called on the Health Minister Robin Swann to "urgently" address concerns that relaxations have not been implemented fairly between Health and Social Care Trusts. 

Mrs Cameron said, ‘‘The restrictions placed on pregnant women and their partners at the height of the first wave of Covid-19 demonstrated the serious threat posed by the virus and the disruption it caused to even the most cherished aspects of life in Northern Ireland.

"The guidance that took effect on 6 July was therefore extremely welcome, once again placing the onus on Trusts to facilitate birth partners seeking to accompany women to a range of maternity appointments.

"This included, but was not restricted to, dating and anomaly scans, induction of labour, the duration of labour, for birth, and visits to antenatal and postnatal wards." 

Mrs Cameron added, "We are becoming increasingly concerned about reports that these rights have not been restored in a consistent or fair fashion.

"Whilst some Trusts appear to have honoured the guidance in full, others have been limiting relaxations to 12- and 20-week scans only.

"This has led to a perception of a double standard.

"I would urgently call on the Health Minister to take steps to rectify these concerns and issue clearer guidance. It is wrong that some birth partners are granted greater access than others simply because of where they live. Every pregnancy and every partner should be treated equitably and fairly.’’

However, guidance issued by the Department of Health states local Health and Social Care trusts will act depending on the regional pandemic surge level, meaning different approaches will be taken in different areas,

The document containing the guidance said "Local outbreaks in HSC Trust areas and Care Homes may occur which will require a specific local response out with the regional pandemic surge level."


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